You could say this about all my feature posts, but it’s been way too long since I’ve done an In The Toolbox. This is the recurring post theme that explores an ‘essential’ album chosen from my handy toolbox full of CD’s. I’ve extended this privilege to any of my vinyls that I keep in my sturdy Eurolite carrying case (both seen above).
To get things going again with this feature, I’m offering up two gems today. These discs come from a couple of Texas’ best songwriters and both were the album that turned me on to the artist. Also linking these albums together is the fact that they both feature a cut of the namesake song for this blog. This Mornin’ I Am Born Again was originally a Woody Guthrie poem that Slaid Cleaves got his hands on put to music. Slaid included his version on his career-making album Broke Down. A few years later, Ray Wylie Hubbard recorded a cut of the song for my favorite album of his, Delirium Tremolos.
One of my first orders of business back when I started this blog was to get Slaid’s name out into the blogosphere. My first post following the introductory Best of 2007 lists was an Artist Spotlight on Slaid. There, I expressed my admiration for Broke Down, his 5th album, but only the 2nd originally released on CD. The disc contains 10 tracks, not one of which can be considered weak.
‘Broke Down’ leads off, introducing the listener to Slaid’s unmatched ability to tell a story. If this album had a hand in jump-starting Slaid’s career, then the title track gets most of the credit. He continues this trend with ‘Breakfast in Hell,’ a John Henry-esque story of the tragic death of a Canadian logger. The most powerful track on the album is a well-chosen Karen Poston cover, ‘Lydia’ - a captivating story of a weathered widow twice-scarred by coal mine tragedy. The tune fits Slaid and the album so well, you would never guess it wasn’t his. While his narratives are generally of the brokenhearted and last-leggers, there is an air of optimism in Slaid’s voice that hints at a happy ending – even if it may not occur during the span of the song.Continue Reading