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Rodney Crowell long has been considered one of the most incisive songwriters and lyricists in modern folk and country music, but even a few decades into his career, he’s still pushing himself. When it came time to craft the music that would emerge as the freshly released “Tarpaper Sky” album, Crowell opted to move forward by taking a look back. He reassembled the musicians responsible for the 1988 release “Diamonds & Dirt” – bassist Michael Rhodes, drummer Eddie Bayers and guitarist Steuart Smith. He then brought them into the studio and gathered them in a circle, as if around a campfire, and tracked one of the finest collections of songs of his career live off the studio floor. The result is a record that already is being hailed as one of his strongest.

The tour for “Tarpaper Sky” finds Crowell and his band returning to the Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.) at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Shannon McNally will open. Tickets are $55 advance, $60 day of show (www.sportsmenstavern.net).

– Jeff Miers