Rodney Crowell has certainly aged well. A reliable country hitmaker in the ’80s, this gifted songwriter subsequently traded chart success for more thoughtful records that deepened his roots in the best Nashville and folk traditions. Following the second of his fine collaborations with former employer Emmylou Harris, he’s returned to solo work on the quietly devastating Close Ties. Stripping his music down to its emotional essentials, Crowell crafts vivid, regret-soaked vignettes of reckless behavior and hard lessons learned, with his weary, rueful voice amplifying the confessional vibe. The loping “It Ain’t Over Yet,” featuring guest vocals by ex-wife Rosanne Cash and John Paul White, late of The Civil Wars, champions the resilient spirit, while “East Houston Blues” recounts the trials of “a worried man on a losing streak” to a jaunty groove. And “Nashville 1972” takes a fond look back at his early days in Music City, rubbing shoulders with greats like Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Tom T. Hall. Call it country, folk, pop or Americana, Close Ties will connect with anyone who appreciates insightful tunes and honest, unadorned performances.