Slaid Cleaves has always been and understated guy. As a songwriter and performer his words and music have been simple direct and well…understated. This is not a bad thing.
Slaid’s latest offering is titled Still Fighting the War and features 13 songs all of which he wrote or co-wrote. The album also features A-list Austin musicians (Jimmy LaFave, Eliza Gilkyson, Terri Hendrix, Harmoni Kelley McCarty) that provide a very well-produced (by Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Lloyd Maines and Mark Hellman) album that while being understated provides a beautiful back drop for the songs.
The albums opening track is the title track “Still Fighting the War”. The song is about a soldier returning home after 3 tours in the Mideast. He arrives home not being the same person he was when he left. The character is disillusioned and laments that “men go off to war for a hundred reasons. But they all come home with the same demons.” A powerful song with words that ring true for a lot of people.
The proceeds for the single “Still Fighting the War” are being donated by Slaid to Operation Homefront which provides emergency financial relief for service men and their family’s.
The rest of the album tells the story of lost love (“Without Her”), working for a living (“Rust Belt Fields” & “Welding Burns”), dreams (“Hometown USA” & “Go for the Gold”) with characters that are not larger than life but rather everyday people. The songs could have been written for your next door neighbor or the guy trying to raise a family on minimum wage. Real Springsteen/ Woody Guthrie stuff here folks.
The stand out track on the record on the record is “Texas Love Song”. The ditty covers a lot of ground on how much someone can love another.
I love you even more than I love Texas
And if you make me leave this state
I’ll curse but I won’t hesitate
‘cause I love you even more than I love Texas
The song is destined to become a live performance favorite. The record is destined to become a favorite in your collection. Smartly written songs, not a note out of place in the music, and subject matter that you can relate to all add up to a stand out offering from Mr. Cleaves.