East Nashville maverick, singer-songwriter Todd Snider is and always will be his own man, never afraid of swimming against the tide Snider on this occasion has gone and recorded a tribute album (following his acclaimed album Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables) as he plays music of adopted Texan, Jerry Jeff Walker. While not all songs are from Walker’s pen they have that same, conversational feel as do Snider’s best songs do.
Walker’s free-wheeling, reckless don’t give a damn style is like a mirror image of today’s Mr Snider. A free sprit who has crafted a few good songs and albums of his own! I have been a fan of Jerry Jeff’s since the release in quick succession of It’s A Good Night For Singing (1976) and in 1977 A Man Must Carry On (a double c/w gate sleeve). It was here, after the release of one or two less impressive albums I went into his back catalogue and was blown away with what I found. As in his albums Ridin’ High, Viva Terlingua and Jerry Jeff Walker for he was hotter than a pistol back then.
With a good few of the songs, loose, good time fare as true country classics ‘Hill Country Rain’ good though Todd covers the song you have to hear ol’ JJW to get the full rush of excitement! Though this is true of one or two cuts, after all Jerry Jeff is a hard act to follow Snider gets right into it on ‘Jaded Lover’ as band members Vince Herman, acoustic, resophonic guitar, mandolin; Chad Staehly, piano, Wurlitzer, B3 organ, melodica; Jim Lewin, electric guitar; Brian Adams, bass guitar; Chris Sheldon, drums join Todd on acoustic guitar, harp and get to hang.
Snider’s handling of the jostling ‘Sangria Wine’, melancholy ‘Derby Day’ (neatly peppered with harp, acoustic, resophonic guitar and mandolin) and Walker’s co-writer with Jimmy Buffett ‘Railroad Lady’ (that he nails and why shouldn’t he for it is a great song!) and with neat piano, guitar, mandolin and harmony vocals and with a wistful feel akin to Walker’s ‘Little Bird’ (starring Elizabeth Cook on harmony vocals) are particularly pleasing and comparable in quality to the originals.
Others of note include his sensitive and critically strong version of Walker’s best known song, ‘Mr. Bojangles’ —stripped back with just him and acoustic guitar TS produces a fabulous take. A great compliment to arguably the finest free-spirited act of his idiom and better still, carried out in a fashion Walker will stand up and acclaim. Go check 'em both out!
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