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Time As We Know It - The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker

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Album Review

Jerry Jeff Walker first gained fame as a performer when he relocated to Austin, Texas in the early '70s and fell in with the local singer/songwriters who would find an audience as part of the outlaw country scene. While Walker clearly had no problems with either drinking or hell-raising, like his compatriots Billie Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, and Willie Nelson, he had a much greater poetic sensibility than his reputation would lead many to imagine (particularly after he unwittingly made Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mothers" an anthem). Given Snider's not-undeserved reputation as a hard-partying misfit who wanders from place to place spinning tall tales he's set to music (which are often more literate than his fans seem to acknowledge), it's no wonder he'd feel a kinship with Jerry Jeff Walker, and he pays homage to his fellow gypsy tunesmith on Time as We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker, in which Snider covers 14 songs either written or recorded by Walker. No one has ever accused Snider of having an especially strong and versatile voice, and while it's well-suited to his own musical shaggy dog tales, he runs hot and cold as an interpretive singer, so it's a very pleasant surprise to report that his craggy, rumpled instrument and sly sense of phrasing fit most of these songs quite well. Though tunes like "Sangria Wine" and "Continuing Saga of the Classic Bummer" would seem made to order for Snider, "Railroad Lady," "Little Bird," "Laying My Life on the Line," and "Hill Country Rain" demand a bit more nuance, but Snider just sings them with a simple, weathered honesty that brings them to life and makes them sound like they come straight from the heart. Great American Taxi, a band which has collaborated with Snider several times in the past, backs him up for these sessions and brings a rich range of flavors to this music without intruding on the casual and intimate feel of the performances, and Don Was' production is clean, clear, and admirably non-intrusive. Time as We Know It often has the feel and the sound of a late-night guitar pull, and that's one of the reasons it works so well; Snider seems to know he'll never top Walker's original recordings, but he sure likes sharing these tunes that he clearly loves and understands, and enough of that soul and belief is caught on tape to make this as purely enjoyable as anything Snider has released in the past decade.


Born: 11 October 1966 in Portland, OR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Todd Snider first garnered attention for his timely alt-rock satire "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," a folk-rock song that struck a chord with younger people fed up with angry alternative rock bands, and at the same time, appealed to aging rockers who grew up with the folk revival of the 1960s. Snider was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in Santa Rosa, Austin, Houston, and Atlanta. After moving to Memphis in the mid-'80s and establishing residency at a local club named...
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Time As We Know It - The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker, Todd Snider
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