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Fate's Right Hand

Fate's Right Hand

5.0 2
by Rodney Crowell

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Hard to believe, but Rodney Crowell has topped himself. Fate's Right Hand is every bit as personal as his gripping 2001 memoir and comeback hit, The Houston Kid, but rather than the ghosts of a rough childhood, it examines a man at midlife. Full of self-doubt, questing spiritually, Crowell finds enough optimism to drive


Hard to believe, but Rodney Crowell has topped himself. Fate's Right Hand is every bit as personal as his gripping 2001 memoir and comeback hit, The Houston Kid, but rather than the ghosts of a rough childhood, it examines a man at midlife. Full of self-doubt, questing spiritually, Crowell finds enough optimism to drive him on to a new day -- a point driven home on the resplendent closer, the country rocker "This Too Will Pass," addressed to his young child. And of course the music matches the lyrics' thrust, from the galloping banjo lines from Béla Fleck that send "Earthbound" positively skyward, to Tony Harrell's "Runaway"-style organ lines in the infectious, Beatlesque "Come On Funny Feeling," to Bill Livsey's eerie electric harmonium rising up from the mist in "Ridin' Out the Storm." Sometimes, though, Crowell needs nothing more than his voice and his acoustic guitar to cut to -- and through -- the bone, as on the somber, eloquent "Adam's Song," a sensitive, knowing prayer for friends who lost a child. When Crowell quietly caresses the key lyric -- "We're just learning how to live with a lifelong broken heart" -- listeners feel the presence of an absolutely masterful writer. In the midst of a midlife renaissance, Crowell has a lot more to tell -- about himself, and about us -- than we could ever imagine; this surpassing album shows he's not done by half.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Fate's Right Hand is one of those albums that couldn't have been written or recorded at any other time in Rodney Crowell's career. Two years after his monumentally acclaimed The Houston Kid, Crowell has laid out his autobiography in sight and sound. His track record of hits -- written for himself as well as for other artists -- could have just gone on untarnished. But Fate's Right Hand is the flip side of The Houston Kid. Whereas the latter album is about the past, the former is about the present, not only in the artist's life, but in the lives of those around him, and in the question of life itself: why is it worth living and how can suffering be alleviated? While many will think this is blasphemy, Fate's Right Hand is the finest record Crowell has issued since Diamonds & Dirt and may turn out to be the finest of his entire career -- and that's saying a lot. Crowell and Pete Coleman produced this outing and enlisted the help of friends old and new: Steuart Smith, Pat Buchanan, Michael Rhodes, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Richard Bennett, Béla Fleck, Carl Jackson, Marcia Ramirez, Charlie McCoy, Kim Richey, and Will Kimbrough, to name a few. Crowell wrote the entire record himself; he digs deep for the ugly stuff in order to uncover what shines beneath it. The opener, "Still Learning How to Fly," is a song about living in the moment because the moment is all you have.Crowell claims he wrote it based on conversations he had with a friend dying of terminal cancer; about what comes in the afterlife. With dobros, electric guitars, and acoustic six-strings wrapping around each other in a big, airy mix painted with a Hammond B-3, it is one of Crowell's transcendent moments. Remember Diamonds & Dirt? Yeah -- like that. The title track ushers itself in around some warm, rounded bass tones, an organ, and maracas, as Crowell begins a series of seemingly unrelated non sequiturs. It's a pissed-off song that is as close to punk as Crowell will ever write. The notion of the transcendent is again present as it drenches Fleck's banjo riff in "Earthbound." Crowell makes the argument for living day-to-day in a world full of death and cynicism: where surrender is not an option until its time. All of this points to the most naked song Crowell has ever written: "Time to Go Inward," with both spoken word and sung refrains over fingerpicked acoustic guitars and electric dobros. It's a folk song about seeing; a country song about acceptance; a human song about the fear of what you might find when you look so deeply inside yourself. "The Man in Me" is about the negativity found there. It's a country-rock song that looks deeply into the mirror, doesn't like what it sees, and can't escape. Crowell penned "Preaching to the Choir" as an answer to "Time to Go Inward," but it's another mirror he sees: it's a bluesy rock tune touched by country gospel and bluegrass, and it smokes. There are a couple of other thoughtful moments here, cuts where Crowell is trying to make sense rather than preach -- which is what this album is all about: making sense of things rather than preaching about them. But it all comes to a head in "This Too Will Pass," a country song with a rockabilly shuffle that expresses the wisdom of those who believe and practice what Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous teach (no claim is made or intended for Crowell being part of either): impermanence, suffering, and joy -- and everything in between -- are merely the stages of cyclical existence. Happiness is possible. There is a way out, but you have it discover it for yourself.
Blender - John DeFore
A backhandedly optimistic testament to idealism, soul-searching and fixing today's problems instead of obsessing on the past.

Product Details

Release Date:
Sbme Special Mkts.


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Rodney Crowell   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Bouzouki,Electric Guitar,Guitar (Baritone)
Jerry Douglas   Dobro
John Jorgenson   Organ,Mandolin,Electric Guitar
Richard Bennett   Electric Guitar,Hi String
Pat Buchanan   Electric Guitar
John Cowan   Vocal Harmony
Béla Fleck   Banjo
Tony Harrell   Organ
John Hobbs   Organ
Carl Jackson   Background Vocals
Paul Leim   Percussion,Drums,Djembe
Billy Livsey   Organ,Harmonium
Jerry McPherson   Electric Guitar
Greg Morrow   Drums
Michael Rhodes   Bass
Kim Richey   Vocal Harmony
Vince Santoro   Drums,Background Vocals
Russell Smith   Background Vocals
Steuart Smith   Organ,Guitar (Electronic)
Randall Waller   Background Vocals
Charlie McCoy   Harmonica
Barbara Santoro   Background Vocals
Gillian Welch   Vocal Harmony
David Rawlings   Vocal Harmony
Will Kimbrough   Dobro,Accordion,Guitar (Electric Baritone)
Marcia Ramirez   Vocals,Background Vocals
Chris Rodriguez   Acoustic Guitar
Trey Landrey   Drums

Technical Credits

Rodney Crowell   Composer,Producer
Peter Coleman   Producer,Engineer
Donivan Cowart   Engineer
Jim Dineen   Engineer
Giulio Turturro   Art Direction

Customer Reviews

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Fate's Right Hand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a hard one to please in the music category. I can find fault with virtually everything and I must confess... I am hard pressed to find one thing I do not like about this album. The title track of this album is a much welcome departure for Crowell with it's Dylan-esque feel to it. It is bone honest and inspiring. Then a song like this is is counterbalanced with ""Come on Funny Feeling" that is carefree and childlike. There are some great contributing players on this album including Gillian Welch whose harmonies on "Time to Go Inward" are haunting. This album is almost self deprecating with songs like "The Man in Me" and makes you want to be able to see yourself with that level honesty he seems to posses... as uncomfortable as that might be. This is unlike any of his earlier works in that it is deep in meaning and content, but it has not lost a bit of that Rodney Crowell energy that is infectious.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Crowell’s led a full life, both in music (Nashville songwriter, Hot Band member, New Traditionalist hitmaker, chart-topping producer) and alongside (comrade of Townes Van Zant and Guy Clark, Mr. Rosanne Cash). He’s drawn on the latter to fuel the former, co-writing with his pals, and creating a confessional album detailing the demise of his marriage. With such a deep history, it’s no surprise that Crowell’s fifties find him mining a rich vein of experience and creating the best music of his already illustrious career. ¶ "Fate’s Right Hand" extends the autobiographical themes of 2001’s "The Houston Kid" by moving from reminiscences of the past to contemplations of the present and questions of the future. Crowell’s eleven new compositions take his familiar course between optimism and despair, but unlike those written in younger years, the emotions are firmly grounded in a life already half lived. The stock-taking of "The Houston Kid" is replaced with deeply reflective thinking of what personal history has wrought, and what the future may hold. ¶ Crowell’s writing has always succeeded on its emotional transparency and the vulnerability thus created; the perspective of middle-age amplifies Crowell’s motivation for internal discovery and self-confrontation. He contemplates the continuity of life and after-life, thinks about whether picking the point of transition makes any sense, and sympathizes with those left behind. He takes stock of the world with the title song’s blistering string of non-sequiturs (a more worthy followup to Dylan’s "Subterranean Homesick Blues" than Billy Joel could have ever hoped to pen), and, as he puts it, deals with "the uncertainty of a clouded future and the sorrow of a botched past." ¶ "Time To Go Inward" finds advice given by Minnie Pearl having grown to fruition, and "The Man in Me" steps outside the songwriter’s current circumstance to anticipate the old man he might become. The album closes with philosophical advice from father to daughter, by way of George Harrison’s "All Things Must Pass" -- a fitting wrap to the album’s themes. ¶ Crowell and co-producer Pete Coleman give the sound a rootsy edge, featuring luscious acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, dobro, shuffling drums, and a lining of Hammond organ. There’s a great deal of power in the assembled band’s playing, augmented by guest turns from Jerry Douglas and Bela Fleck, but it never overwhelms Crowell’s singing or his incredible songs.