I must start this review with a confession…I love everything Slaid Cleaves puts out so all objectivity has been thrown out the window for this one. I have been eagerly awaiting this record since about a week after his previous one was released.
Once again, Cleaves has delivered a record that all of his fans will be thrilled with. The album continues to show why Cleaves is one of the top writers/ performers in the Americana vein. All of the tracks on Still Fighting the War fit well among the rest of Cleaves’ catalog of weary country folk songs.
Slaid assembled a superb studio band to back him on the album that perfectly accents his songs. As always Cleaves words and vocals are spot on and are what carries this record throughout. His characters are well formed, and easy to relate to for all listeners, as Cleaves excels at writing the stories of the people we sit with at our local taverns, churches and jobs.
Highlights on this one, start out with, Slaid’s ode to his yodeling hero Don Walser, “God’s Own Yodeler”, a singer Slaid has continuously sang the praises of for years. Another great track is “Gone”, which follows the protagonist from a childhood crush, through the subsequent marriage and into the age where their own daughter is now gone on her own. Cleaves perfectly captures the anxieties of a man over the females that he holds dear to his heart.
Slaid’s humor shows through on the over the top, “Texas Love Song”, where he claims to love this woman more than all of the things he loves about his adopted home state. The co-write with long time collaborator, Rod Picott, “Rust Belt Fields” is handled slightly different than the version Picott released a few years ago, but retains the poignancy that makes it such a powerful song.
My only complaint on this album, comes from the other Picott co-write, “Welding Burns”. I think personally I am too married to the Picott version and the changes that Slaid made to the song don’t feel right to me.
At the end of the day, Cleaves has produced another masterful record and we can now all enjoy it while looking forward to his next one. Go buy Still Fighting the War and learn more about Slaid at www.SlaidCleaves.com.