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The Outsider

21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 3, 2011
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The Outsider + Fate's Right Hand + Tarpaper Sky
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Outsider by Rodney Crowell

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Rodney Crowell's on a roll. The Outsider may be a cut below its predecessor, the artistic, critical, and commercial breakthrough that was Fate's Right Hand--perhaps the element of surprise is gone, perhaps the songs aren't quite as sharp, perhaps it's just not possible to catch lightning in a bottle twice in a row--but that was a tough act to follow, and this one's none too shabby. It's his most topical effort yet. After teaching a generation how to write modern country songs, Crowell, it turns out, all along really just wanted to rock. Rockin' Rodney employs guitars that ring, spring, crunch, and snarl, and writes songs full of Dylanesque lyrics (only the portentous and cornball "Ignorance Is the Enemy" falls flat). In fact, he's so under the sway of Bobby D. that he name-checks the man in "Beautiful Despair" and, with the help of Emmylou Harris, turns Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" into such a moving duet that the very idea seems like a no-brainer. Why hadn't somebody thought of it sooner? --John Morthland

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 3, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2005
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • ASIN: B000A2EKLI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,506 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By DanD VINE VOICE on August 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Rodney Crowell has been called many things throughout his long career, and he's about to add on a new nickname: "Rockin' Rodney." Because, really, one just can't resist, after hearing the jangling electric guitars on the opening numbers. But never fear; for Rodney Crowell, it has never (at least, not recently) been about sounding commercial, or even sounding "country." It's been about the music--whatever style you want to call it.

His songwriting, as witnessed on his previous release (the incredible FATE'S RIGHT HAND), has not diminished any. This album covers a wide range of topcics, from love to lust, from anger to addoration. He criticizes greedy celebrities ("Give to me my Aspen winters/Sorry 'bout the World Trade Center/But I Can't help the ones in need/I got my own mouth to feed"), hippocrites ("The Dixie Chicks can kiss my a**/But I still need that backstage pass"), all the while praising one of his influences and compatriots, Bob Dylan ("Beautiful despair is hearing Dylan when you're drunk at 3 a.m./And knowing that the chances are no matter what you'll never write like him"). He even covers Dylan's "Shelter From the Storm," re-worked as an amazing duet with Emmylou Harris, a long-time friend and collaborator (Harris was one of the first to record a Rodney Crowell song).

With guests including Harris, John Prine, the Jenkins, Jedd Hughes, Buddy and Julie Miller, and others, Crowell manages to stand on his own, as he's always done. THE OUTSIDER is yet another great masterpiece by this truly unique singer/songwriter, who has influenced many artists over the years, and continues to do so today. If you miss THE OUTSIDER, you're missing what music is all about--honesty.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on August 26, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Following a six year hiatus from releasing new albums, Crowell dropped the autobiographical "The Houston Kid" in 2001. This observation of the songwriter's beginnings was complemented in 2003 by the introspective spiritual self-examination, "Fate's Right Hand." Crowell now converts the pair into a trilogy as his latest collection of songs turn his view outward, contemplating how his being and philosophies fit in to the current political and social landscape.

Crowell's often written autobiographically, such as 1992's divorce-inspired "Life is Messy" LP, but his recent arc is broader and more seasoned, weaving personal issues into a larger world context. His latest lyrics are among his most forceful yet, and they're backed by a four-piece rock 'n' roll band that weaves searing guitar lines with touches of organ and horns. Writing on tour in Europe, Crowell catches the poetic qualities of being lost in love in the northlands ("Glasgow Girl"), and tense moments in a pub ("Don't Get Me Started") during which the human and monetary costs of America's foreign policy connect uncomfortably to the USA's capitalistic imperative.

Consumer culture's contradictions come to the fore on "The Obscenity Prayer," laid out in a greedy inner-monologue of callous materialism and hypocritical contradiction ("The Dixie Chicks can kiss my ass / But I still need my backstage pass"). The overbearing punditry of the modern world gives way to the value of trusting one's personal observations in "Dancin' Circles Round the Sun," and a similar sense of self-empowerment is found in "Beautiful Despair." Crowell sings of self imposed limitations and that "Beautiful despair is slouching forward toward a past you might regret.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on January 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The first six songs of this album are as hook-laden and catchy as anything by today's teen queens, but that's where the comparison ends, because Rodney Crowell's lyrics are unusual and his voice has a frequently noticeable twang that, unlike many of today's country stars, is unaffected and natural. Since country has increasingly become pop, you would think that this album would have been enthusiastically embraced by country radio, but this is the third of a series of Crowell albums in which he delves into subjects and areas that reflect his personal beliefs, so while the music may be in tune with Big & Rich, the lyrics are as far from Toby Keith as you can get.

I first discovered Crowell with his breakup (from Rosanne Cash) album, Life is Messy, and enjoyed it because it used the tropes of country music (steel guitar, a singer with a drawl, distinct lyrics that seem as if they are spoken directly to you) but didn't pander. Like Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yoakam, Crowell was unusual and the very fact that he didn't fit within mainstream country made his songs much more interesting to me. That album marked his first departure from Nashville, where he had made a name for himself as a songwriter and producer. I have no idea if this was an intentional break, or if it just grew organically from life events, but no matter, it was the stuff of good albums. I picked up his greatest hits collection, which was okay, but much too like the others songs of its era, and not as unusual as Life is Messy.

I had forgotten about Crowell until recently when I heard a new song of his on a local indepenent radio station and realized that he was back, and back with the kind of songs that I was looking for. Appropriately enough, the song was "The Outsider," from the album of the same name.
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