While this review comes a few weeks after the album’s release, it has been great to read to overwhelmingly positive accolades bestowed on singer- songwriter extraordinaire, Todd Snider. If one were to believe or buy into what’s being written you would swear his new album was a masterstroke of inspiration that we have never seen the likes of this before. All hail the new king who oddly enough, is the exact same as the old king. Snider has been crafting his unique brand of music since his debut on Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Records in 1994 and to those of us who are long time fans, Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol 3 is not a surprise or an anomaly but instead serves as a validation of the artist we have followed for these many years.
Recorded at Cash Cabin Studios the first week of October 2018, the albums finds Snider in fine form. He played all the instruments and wrote all the songs save for co-write with John Carter Cash on “The Ghost of Johnny Cash”, hell Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires even show up and contribute backing vocals just in case you needed extra motivation to listen. Five of the albums twelve songs were recorded and intended for a Hard Working Americans project that has yet to see the light of day, others were written for the album and a few have been hanging around for years waiting for the perfect moment to shine. This album captures each moment perfectly. Sparse instrumentation, Johnny Cash’s Martin guitar makes an appearance and the overall feel focuses on an artist deep in the moment and willing to lay it all out there.
“Talking Reality Television Blues” plays up the humor in the sadness of what passes for entertainment these days, and what’s happened to our sense of reality along the way. “Like a Force of Nature” is the first sign that this will be a different kinda record. His pained, introspective vocals and spot on guitar work make you take a second or third listen just to make sure you took in everything he was putting out. “Just Like Overnight” continues the streak as I keep hitting replay to listen, listen again and relisten. I hesitate to call this a mature album but the subject matters he tackles and style in which he approaches each song really standout from his previous releases. “The Blues on Banjo” played on a four-string banjo and starting out with the line “I woke up this morning and I realized…that I repeat myself” repeated twice is classic Snider with tongue held firmly in cheek. “The Ghost of Johnny Cash” about John Carter Cash seeing Loretta Lynn dancing on the front lawn with, according to Loretta, Johnny Cash. It’s a great song and Snider puts it out there like an old west gunfighter, and it is the standout track on the album. Piercing and hair raising, Snider delivers his career defining moment inside of this one song. Besides this masterpiece and coming in a close second is “Watering Flowers in the Rain” about a roadie who worked for Elvis put forth in classic Snider fashion. I love the story and his impeccable phrasing keeps drawing you back to the song again and again. Snider leaves ‘em wanting more with closing track “A Timeless Response to Current Events” which humorously nails our current state of affairs right on the head.
Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 is one of those records that immediately hits you the right way. It is light hearted, painfully serious, political, irreverent and challenging, oftentimes within the same song. I’m not sure what lead to its creation. Was it personal upheaval? Emotional dissatisfaction with life in general? Political unrest? Possibly all of these things (or none of them) played a part is this creative outpouring. I just felt there was something different with this album that made it pop and standout amidst a stellar twenty-five year discography. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. www.toddsnider.com Check out our interview while you’re at it, here: Interview: Todd Snider on Cash Cabin Sessions, Dreams and Songwriting