Although for many Rodney Crowell may be known as just one of the many male singer/songwriters to define the "new country" genre, Crowell's desires have always leaned more towards his songwriting than his performing. The son of a Honky Tonk bandleader who grew up in a rough part of Houston, Crowell moved to Nashville in the early '70s and found a place with a group of working songwriters that included Guy and Suzanne Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Mickey Newberry. He paid the bills performing and set to work honing his writing skills. After "Til I Can Gain Control Again" and "Bluebird Wine" caught the attention of Emmylou Harris, Crowell joined her Hot Band and built his reputation as a songwriter. His career as a solo performer made him one of the top players in country by the late '80s. Crowell's marriage to Rosanne Cash tied him to country royalty and their divorce in 1991 prompted the very personal Life is Messy.
In 2001, Crowell released his 10th solo album, The Houston Kid, a CD that he describes as "the beginning of a new phase in my career." That release, along with Fates Right Hand and last year's The Outsider bring together quality songs that ignore the cries of commercial country radio to focus again on the stories that make up a life - in the true folk tradition, only with Crowell, it's a little more rocked out.