Slaid Cleaves: Still Fighting the War
Still Fighting the War
Music Road Records
A new Slaid Cleaves album is like meeting an old friend – an instant connection, no airs and graces, message delivered with honesty and conviction. And the Texas-based Cleaves (49) has plenty to say in an understated way not unlike John Prine. The title track updates the grim fate of a returned soldier, while two songs he wrote with friend Rod Picot offer a bitter working-class perspective. Picot recorded Rust Belt Fields and Welding Burns on his excellent album called after the latter, but Cleaves manages to find a groove all his own. Perhaps his ace is Scrappy Jud Newcomb, whose guitar playing is a model of taste and economy. There are 13 tracks, some serious (Without Her, I Bet She Does, Voice of Midnight), some less so (Whim of Iron) and some a tad too obvious (Hometown USA). All feature acute observation warmed with country-folk melodies.
Download: Without Her, Welding Burns