CRANK THIS CROWELL UP!
Continuing the creative hat-trick that began with the insider looking out The Houston Kid (2001), through 03's Fate's Right Hand (a critical and artistic return which some called a breakthrough, but with his history of excellence and honesty, I say return), Crowell pulls no punches as he lashes out at an America he and his audience are trying to find a place in.
Feeling like an expatriate as his country totters towards narcissism and anarchy, Rodney amps up the guitars (courtesy of Will Kimbrough, Steuart Smith, and Pat Buchanan) and sets upon his own scorched earth policy. "The Outsider is just a little off keel" he bluesily keens, and don't we know it. Don't Get Me Started finds our hero in a pub, ranting and raging at the neo-cons, while The Obscenity Prayer rips it all to shreds, punk style. The jaunty Dancin' Circles Round The Sun will get you turn off CNN. Beautiful Despair owns one of the greatest opening lines ever: "Beautiful Despair is hearing Dylan when you're drunk at 3 a.m.". Glasgow Girl is just one of those beautiful observations that hit you when you least expect it.
Two tracks do break the momentum. Even though its sentiment is correct and features Emmylou Harris and John Prine, Ignorance Is The Enemy' is too slow and worse, preachy. Dylan's Shelter From The Storm (again with Emmylou) promises but, and I know I'm going out on a limb here, doesn't deliver.
Its two most recent predecessors may be considered his latter day watermarks, but 'The Outsider' definitely deserves many a listen. PLAY LOUD!
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