This album came out two decades ago. Here’s what I had to say about it back then (with some minor editing):
Rodney Crowell has always been a helluva singer and songwriter, penning hits both for himself and everyone from Emmylou Harris and The Oak Ridge Boys to Bob Seger. With his long-overdue 10th album The Houston Kid, though, the Nashville veteran makes the leap from award-winning singer-songwriter to Great American Artist.
His first album in five years, The Houston Kid is, quite simply, nothing shy of a masterpiece of intimacy — a heartfelt, autobiographical album loosely based on Crowell’s hardscrabble childhood and his abusive, alcoholic father. But despite its difficult subject matter, Houston Kid is no downer; Crowell frames and wraps his moving, confessional tales in contemporary roots-rock sounds whose infectious twang invigorates these tales. Rock of My Soul’s quiet rockabilly recalls Bruce Springsteen’s My Heart’s on Fire; Telephone Road has a Steve Earle-meets-Chuck Berry groove; Why Don’t We Talk About It borrows a melody from The Clash’s Lovers Rock; and several songs have a roots-pop energy reminiscent of John Hiatt’s finest moments. Powerful, painful and potent, Houston Kid will likekly go down as some of Crowell’s finest work — the sort of disc artists strive their whole lives to create, but only a select few manage to pull off. Find it and buy it. You won’t be sorry.