BY JOHN B. MOORE
In a BLURT interview recently, Todd Snider bemoaned the fact that he never had a full band to work with. Always a solo folk rocker, more often than not he’s the only one on the stage night after night – with the rare exceptions when he can cajole a drummer and a few other to back him up. But even then, he was always calling the shots.
Well Snider has finally rectified the situation thanks to a few like-minded music buddies with gaps in their respective schedules. In the folk rock/jam band supergroup Snider is the singer of the Hard Working Americans, naturally, and his buddy Dave Schools of Widespread Panic is on bass, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi is on keys, Duane Trucks of King Lincoln plays drums and Neal Casal of The Chris Robinson Brotherhood is on guitar and backing vocals.
The five piece sticks to covers on this self-titled debut, running through 10 solid songs by folks like Randy Newman, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Chuck Mead and Gillian Welch, among others. While the band clearly has an advantage, being able to handpick songs that were already pretty stellar to begin with, credit is due to the hard Working Americans for not simply churning out carbon copies, but slathering plenty of loose blues, jam band raucousness and stoner charm, to make these songs their own. The groups somber take on Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s “Straight to Hell,” already a melancholy song to begin with, is particularly noteworthy.
Here’s hoping Snider and the guys find time to put out another record before too long.
DOWNLOAD: “Down to the Well,” “Stomp and Holler” and “Straight to Hell”