If you’re a songwriting partner with Slaid Cleaves, you are in great company. If you’ve grown up writing songs with Slaid Cleaves for the last 30 years, you’ve got a 1st class education in the craft. Make no mistake. Picott is making art here. You will not ever be able to stream this double album of 26 songs anywhere, nor will you be able to buy any digital version anywhere once these copies are sold out. I am telling you this because I have listened to the whole thing, and it is already an important piece of work to me. For me, the entire work lands somewhere between the cold and windy vibe of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon and the story-telling of Springsteen’s Nebraska, with the help of Will Kimbrough (guitar), Matt Mauch (Acoustic Slide), Rex Price (Mandolin, Bass), Nielsen Hubbard (Production, percussion).
Despite the sparse instrumentation, Wood, Steel, Dust & Dreams manages to keep its momentum throughout without losing steam. We are talking 30 years of songs here, so no doubt, the sequence was likely taken very strongly into consideration.
“Double Crossed Heart” cinematically tells the tale of love gone bad in Lower Middle America – “When she heard about the waitress she didn’t feel a thing. Except how light her hand became when she slipped off that ring.”
“Wrecking Ball” brings us cinematically into familial and generational greed that comes with the dark side of the 9-5, “I have seen and heard the sound of people’s dreams come crashing down. A vacant lot is all there’s left to see. Someday I’ll work for daddy’s company.”
Perhaps my favorite track is “Mama’s Boy” for my own personal reasons, “Drinkin’ Mickey’s Big Mouths the first day of Spring. so they tied the gloves on his shakin’ hands. They’re gonna turn that boy into a man.”
There are so many great songs on this double album that I could write the next 2 pages on it, but I would recommend getting this and turning all the lights down to really let these songs concretize into the psyche properly. This entire double album is specifically focused on the die-hard fans with a very limited number printed, each copy numbered and signed and when they were sold out they would never be made available again. Rod: “It’s a collector’s edition. I’m thinking of it as a run of folk art prints. This album is for the folks who have sustained me over the years and want to help get me to the other side of 2020 – the scourge of years. It might be folk art but I’m not pulling any punches. There will be two CDs, beautiful artwork, and an accompanying booklet that contains extensive notes on the songs themselves.”
The entire work is a consideration for anyone who’s a Picott fan, or at the very least, a fan of the craft of songwriting. I believe something magical happens when you play a record that you know doesn’t exist in any other format. Wood, Steel, Dust & Dreams stands as a flag-waving free, a strike against the empire. And for that, I salute you, Picott. http://rodpicott.com
Read our earlier interview of Rod Picott, here: Interview: Rod Picott on Telling the Truth, Shaming the Devil, Family, and Writing