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East Nashville Skyline

Todd Snider

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Album Review

Regardless of any opinions concerning his music, each successive release from singer/songwriter Todd Snider should be looked upon as a precious gift. His continuous battles against various addictions and depression have had him down for the count on several occasions, prompting speculation that his latest release could be his last. Snider is not oblivious to this situation and freely discusses it in East Nashville Skyline's opening ditty, "Age Like Wine." A short summation of his life and career thus far, he recognizes that it's "too late to die young now," and concedes with a sly wink that "I thought that I'd be dead by now...but I'm not." Indeed he could have been, because in early 2004 Snider had a close call that put him in rehab for the third time. Once again he escaped with a little less stomach lining and a head full of songs that are replete with the wry humor, observations, and confessions that have garnered him a loyal fan base. With production and musical assistance from Will Kimbrough (Will & the Bushmen, Bis-Quits), East Nashville Skyline ambles down the same organic folk path that Snider first groomed on 2000's Happy to Be Here. The sparse instrumentation and lo-fi production are a perfect fit for Snider's twangy country-tinged songs that ruminate on politics, death, the places he has been, and the colorful folks he has met. He recounts his mistaken incarceration in the "Tillamook County Jail," pays tribute to a fun-lovin' drinking buddy in "Play a Train Song," and defends the backwoods musical reputation of "Nashville," where there is "nothing wrong with pickin' out in the sticks." More so than his previous discs, Snider has loaded Skyline with his trademark observational songs in which he offers pointed views that rarely sound self-indulgent or preachy. "The Ballad of the Kingsmen" wonders why the religious right and the government are so quick to blame rock music for the moral decline of our youth, while "Incarcerated" spouts off a bloated list of implausible excuses given by a defendant who happily appears on a television courtroom program. Although Snider gets his point across in an entertaining way, these songs tend to wear out after a few listens and do not have the lasting power of his more melodic songs like the beautiful "Sunshine," in which a suicidal jumper gets a second chance and comes to appreciate what life has to offer. Even though the song is not autobiographical, there is a lot of Todd Snider within the lyrics, and when he ends the album with "Enjoy Yourself," it feels as if he has reached a point in his life where he may be getting things under control. East Nashville Skyline may be a bit too relaxed and not quite as focused as his previous discs, but the sheer enjoyment of making music can be heard throughout and a revitalized Todd Snider has crafted another gift that, one hopes, will not be his last.

Biography

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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East Nashville Skyline, Todd Snider
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