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More stomp than holler
on 23 February 2014
Excellent offering from Todd Snider-led 'supergroup', covering the work of a variety of American songsmiths, all thematically linked by their depiction of the difficulties of life on the margins.
Outstanding are "Blackland Farmer", "I Don't Have A Gun" and a pleasingly "out there" version of Randy Newman's "Mr President Have Pity On The Working Man". Not far behind are the emotive "Straight To Hell" "Down To The Well" and a lump-in-the-throat version of Gillian Welch's "Wrecking Ball".
Hayes Carll's thumping "Stomp and Holler" boasts the inspired couplet: "I'm like James Brown only white and taller / All I wanna do is stomp and holler". It's such a winning line that the band do it twice, presumably in case anyone missed it first time round.
Only two song choices blot the copybook: "Welfare Music" (chosen more for its title and subject matter than its inherent musical appeal?) and the equally unremarkable rocker "Another Train", but overall the album is a winner and it would be fascinating to see what this group could do with all-new original material. Hopefully we'll get that opportunity before too long.