Townes Van Zandt – Texas Rain

LP Review | Charly | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

From the opening few bars of “If I Needed You”, we know we’re onto a good thing. Uncomplicated and immediately accessible, Townes Van Zandt introduces us once again to his artistry with a song that needs no introduction. The fact that on this version the singer-songwriter is joined by Emmylou Harris only adds to the joy. The first time pressing on vinyl of Townes Van Zandt’s album of duets Texas Rain comes as a handsomely packaged double disc set, featuring other guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Freddy Fender amongst others. Initially intended as a sort of comeback album after Van Zandt’s ‘lost’ period, the project was soon transformed into a fully formed duets album, culminating in one of the finest recordings in the Texas singer-songwriter’s canon.

Originally released on CD back in 2001, the Kevin Eggers-produced album features Freddy Fender adding authenticity to “Pancho and Lefty” with its injection of Tejano, partly sung in Spanish, whilst Jerry Jeff Walker’s reading of “Blue Wind Blew” sees the two musicians evidently having too much fun; Walker’s quip during the song’s coda is a tell-tale sign of Van Zandt’s then current period of sobriety. “Waitin’ Around to Die”, one of Van Zandt’s earliest songs, maintains its mournful properties with Calvin Russell adding no further glimpses of joy. There are lighter moments however with Kimmie Rhodes joining Van Zandt on the frilly “Brother Flower”, whilst Kathy Mattea’s silky voice empathetically dovetails with Van Zandt’s inherent sensitivity on the gorgeous “At My Window”.