Castleman's songs are surprisingly patient, forgiving, and candid forays into his psyche. This is a man who can't help singing the blues; because he's so crazy, all he can be is a loner. No one can join him, he sings in the title track, the defiant "My Life," and the tongue-in-chic, gospel-organ "Movin' Down (in the World)." Our wounded hero also connects on the gorgeous, pop-gospel "Kinda Like a Rainbow" (Alison Krauss's harmonies are those of a bruised angel) and the tender "Like Red on a Rose." The texture of the tunes is delicate, the production unusually rich and careful, though undoctored. What gives Castleman's brilliant songs extra immediacy and vividness is expert musicianship, paced by the likes of veteran drummer Kenny Malone and Castleman's brother-in-arms (and brother-in-law), guitarist Pat Bergeson. Castleman tunes are as high lonesome as anything by Jimmie Dale Gilmore or Lyle Lovett. You may think you're about to hear a folk album, but Crazy as Me is far, far more -- and nothing like conventional Nashville product.
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