Fate's Right Hand (DMZ/Epic)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003
Rodney CrowellFate's Right Hand (DMZ/Epic) Rodney Crowell's last release, 2001's The Houston Kid, was his first in nearly six years. It marked a new beginning for someone who had been at the top of the country-music heap since the late Seventies, but had taken time off to raise a family. On Houston, Crowell revisited his past, capturing the imagination in ways he hadn't previously, moving those that heard it with its depth and beauty. Very few could've imagined that he would follow it with a collection of songs that surpasses anything he's done in the past, but he has. Fate's Right Hand deals with the present, not just of his own life, but also the lives of those around him. He begins with "Still Learning How to Fly," a tune about living in the moment, written for a friend who had terminal cancer, yet was determined to make his mark in the afterlife. Crowell examines himself in the sparse "Time to Go Inward" and describes what he sees in the mirror on "The Man in Me," a brutally honest country rocker. Both songs deal with cynicism and fear in a manner that shows Crowell really has mastered his craft. It's wrapped up neatly by "This Too Will Pass," an anthemic cousin to George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass," that forcefully resolves all that comes before it with the Zen notion: Suffering and joy are just two sides of the same coin.