Throughout the course of a storied career, Rodney Crowell has pretty much done it all: singer/songwriter, hired-gun musician, country hitmaker; the list goes on.

Throughout the course of a storied career, Rodney Crowell has pretty much done it all: singer/songwriter, hired-gun musician, country hitmaker; the list goes on. But he has been in a flat-out songwriter zone of late, beginning with 2001's stellar set "The Houston Kid" and again with this impressive collection. Like its predecessor, this is mature, unflinching stuff delivered with country rock flair. "Still Learning to Fly" is a redemptive glory, and the powerful, Dylan-esque title cut is a wild ride, expertly written and fearlessly rendered. Crowell often bravely waxes introspective, taking unbiased stock of his life on "Time to Go Inward" and "The Man in Me," then turns poetically observant with "Ridin' out the Storm" and showcases an endearing ability to laugh at himself on the gospel rave-up "Preachin' to the Choir." He also summons some ragged optimism with the perplexed, trippy "Come on Funny Feelin' " and gentle "Adam's Song." Fiercely personal, "Fate's Right Hand" is also brilliantly human.—RW