Slaid Cleaves – Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away

January 01, 1970

(Music Road)


Slaid Cleaves is an especially incisive singer/songwriter,
and while far too few people may be aware of his talents, his new album provides
all the proof needed.  Cleaves has been
responsible for several fine efforts over the course of the past ten years, his
more recent releases in collaboration with erstwhile mentor and producer Gurf
Morlix.  Yet despite the fact he calls Austin home, he’s never coexisted all that comfortably
with a standard Americana
vibe.  Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away remedies that disparity to a
certain extent, nodding towards tradition with rootsy, rustic, sepia-tinted
sensibilities.  Infused with fiddles,
pedal steel and mandolin, these songs find Cleaves in a somewhat melancholy
mood, but his bittersweet melodies manage to soar triumphantly on the strength
of rousing, resilient refrains.  “Cry” is
a perfect case in point; mellow and subdued at first, it’s escalated
emotionally by an irrepressible, compelling chorus:


for your mama,
Cry for your dad,
                 Cry for everything you
They never had”


That song sets the standard for the ten tracks that follow,
and remarkably, Cleaves keeps the bar equally as high thereafter.  Deliberate and determined, the music
resonates with ringing blue collar anthems like “Hard to Believe,” “Beautiful
Thing” and “Tumbleweed Stew.”  In the
desperate, downtrodden lament “Black T-Shirt” Cleaves conveys a tortuous tale
about a young rebel sinking deeper in the abyss.  “Twistin'” ventures into equally dark terrain
via a harrowing portrait of “Graveyard sons and daughters, passing through an
unfriendly world” while watching as an executioner goes through his paces.  Cleaves’ talent for etching dark descriptive
scenarios from his first-person perspective has him maintaining a quiet,
understated authority, coupled with a world-weary view filled with both
restlessness and resolve. 


With his gift for narrative, it’s no wonder Cleaves inspired
Stephen King to pen the album’s liner notes. 
He’s entitled to the endorsement, because while the title may denote
defeat, Everything You Love Will Be Taken
proves nothing less than a triumph.


“Cry,” “Green Mountains
and Me,” “Twistin'” LEE ZIMMERMAN



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