- Friday, May 18, 2018 at 8:00 PM
- May Memorial UU Society
- General admission: $25.00
Member Tickets: $20.00
An Evening With Slaid Cleaves
This keenly observant songwriter, spinning working-class stories from the heart, makes a rare CNY appearance to close out the Folkus Project’s 2018 Winter/Spring season.
Slaid Cleave’s is one of America’s most accomplished and cherished singer/songwriters – a songwriter that Stephen King – yes, that Stephen King – describes like this: “I’m glad I found Slaid Cleaves, because my life would have been poorer without him…Go to one of Slaid’s shows, take a friend, and pass on the news: Not all the good guy’s wear hats.”
Cleaves’ music is rooted in country and traditional folk songs but is unique enough to have held an interest in a vast sea of singer/songwriters since the 1990’s. He spins stories with a novelist’s eye and a poet’s heart, primarily about working-class people and romantics both hopeful and hopeless.
Now twenty-five years into his storied career, Cleaves’ songwriting has never been more potent than on his new album Ghost on the Car Radio. The characters in Slaid Cleaves’ songs live in unglamorous reality. They work dead-end jobs, they run out of money, they grow old, they hold on to each other (or not), and they die. With an eye for the beauty in everyday life, he tells their stories, bringing a bit of empathy to their uncaring world.
Cleaves’ 2013 CD Still Fighting the War was praised as “one of the year’s best albums” by American Songwriter and “carefully crafted…songs about the struggles of the heart in hard times” by the Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News called his music “a treasure hidden in plain sight,” while the Austin Chronicle declared, “there are few contemporaries that compare. He’s become a master craftsman on the order of Guy Clark and John Prine.”
Other albums over Cleaves’ career include Broke Down (2000), Wishbone (2004), Unsung (2006) and Everything You Love Will Be Taken (2009); all that established him as a singular storyteller.
Raised in South Berwick, Maine, and residing in Austin, Texas, Cleaves was an English and philosophy major at Tufts and his lyrics are underpinned by both a fine sense of meter and moral clarity of vision. You can hear the former – the clever rhymes and forward narrative momentum – in a jaunty song such as Texas Love Song. “Slaid’s a craftsman,” says Terri Hendrix, who sings harmony on that song. “He goes about his songs like a woodworker. You get a lot of the man behind the lyrics. What you see with Slaid is what you get. He doesn’t have the eyes of a cynic. He has optimism about him through a realistic gaze and writes with a wise voice.”
“He phrases like a grifter trying to croon his low-down past away…and writes like he knows he never will.” — Roy Kasten, River Front Times, St. Louis.
“A sharply observant song writer with a deep appreciation for the ageless fundamentals of folk, country, and rock.” — Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader.
“I bet Dylan, Young, and Springsteen wish that they could still write songs like these.” — Alan Harrison, No Depression.