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Rodney Crowell

The Outsider

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Rodney Crowell
The Outsider
Columbia
At 55, Rodney Crowell is acting like an elder. He’s cranky and no longer cares to hide it. Known mostly as a country songwriter, he delivers 10 new ones and a Dylan cover with rockin’ authority. There are times Crowell sounds more like his ex- brother-in-law (in the Cash-Carter clan) Nick Lowe. A string quartet, pipes and horns disrupt preconceptions further. Distaste for his country’s direction is a new topic for Crowell, so it gets preachy in spots: “Ignorance is the Enemy” is part spoken word. Payoffs are “The Obscenity Prayer,” in the voice of America’s gimme culture, and the Celtic-flavoured “We Can’t Turn Back Now” with key line, “Democracy won’t work if we’re asleep.” You get the sense he didn’t want to bring it up, but it’s an elephant in the room.
—Doug Taylor

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