Rodney Crowell is one of country music's most successful songwriters, but the deadly seriousness in his music was always there for those with ears to hear. "Dad drove a stock car to an early death/All I remember was a drunk man's breath," sang Waylon Jennings as he took Crowell's "Ain't Living Long Like This" to the top of the charts. Since the turn of the millennium, Crowell has been on a roll, releasing personal, ambitious albums to wide critical acclaim. With his autobiographical masterpiece "The Houston Kid," he took an unflinching look at his own down-and-out upbringing, and he comes to The Ark with a new album, "Close Ties," that flows from the same sources and has been nominated for an Americana Music Association Album of the Year award. Rodney's guitarist, Australian-born Jedd Hughes, opens.