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Rodney Crowell

The Outsider – 2005 (Sony)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Rodney Crowell

After enjoying mainstream country success in the early Nineties with songs like "Lovin' All Night," Rodney Crowell fell out of the limelight for several years. When he returned to recording, with 2001's "The Houston Kid," he had redefined himself as a singer-songwriter - a little bit country, a little bit rock and blues and all his own voice.

"The Outsider" continues in the same vein, with 11 great new songs, 10 written by Crowell. "Don't Get Me Started" is Crowell's statement song, railing against war and poverty, but in a stroke of brilliance, he chose to lighten the song's heavy message by choosing as narrator a guy in a bar who may have had one too many beers.

"The Obscenity Prayer (Give It to Me)" is a fast-paced, sprawling song from the perspective of a man who's eschewed introspection for materialism.

On the other hand, "Glasgow Girl" is a straight-ahead love song, with a pretty melody and gorgeous flamenco guitar solo from Randy Scruggs. Emmylou Harris lends her considerable talents to two songs here, including the gorgeous "Shelter From the Storm."

Rodney Crowell has succeeded again with "The Outsider," a collection of songs that make a point, yet are eminently listenable.