For two decades, rootsy singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell was known as a guy who could write a hit or produce a standout CD for someone else, but always pulled up lame when it came to his own records. That was before The Houston Kid
, Crowell's 2001 autobiographical masterpiece, which he released at the tender age of 49, following a six-year hiatus. To prove that Kid
was no fluke, Crowell came up big two years ago with the heartfelt and introspective Fate's Right Hand
, and he scores again with the just-released The Outsider
, a snide and cynical look at how times have changed. But while The Outsider
is full of clever, witty, and acerbic lyrics, they're balanced with a hopeful, it-isn't-too-late-for-change philosophy. By his age, prodigious talents like Crowell usually settle into the status of elder statesmen. But this guy appears to be finally feeling his oats.