Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
on 7 March 2008
The Outsider roars out of the traps with a riffing, rocking one-two punch: the hard partying 'Say you love me' and 'The Obscenity Prayer', an anthem to greed - "Give it to me, give it to me right now". Title track, 'The Outsider' follows, and suffers from the comparison, but neatly illustrates the problems of the rest of the album. Crowell is a capable and occasionally great songwriter, but too many songs here, while lyrically inventive are saddled with mundane settings. Others are, at least to these European ears, just plain dreadful, especially the mawkish 'Ignorance is the enemy' a worryingly close cousin of 'The Desiderata': how did so many great performers get roped in to this?
The whole album is deep in the shadows of 9/11, Iraq and the so called war on terror, and Crowell's lyrical concerns step far outside the usual territory for country music, even name checking and quoting a first century Stoic philosopher. Unfortunately the songs often come over as whining, worthy or just dull.
On 'Beautiful despair', Crowell sings: "Beautiful despair is hearing Dylan when you're drunk at 3am, Knowing that the chances are no matter what, You'll never write like him". Crowell then goes on to cover 'Shelter from the storm' and even with the support of former boss, and Dylan alumnus, the peerless Emmylou Harris, the performance is such that it's hard to argue.