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Slaid Cleaves Slaid Cleaves
Album: Ghost On The Car Radio
Label: Candy House
Tracks: 12

Slaid Cleaves is one of those US singer-songwriters who appears to have been around forever, producing album after album of finely-crafted songs from the centre of the Venn diagram of pop, folk, Americana and country, a surprisingly well-populated intersection.

If that sounds disingenuous, be assured that Ghost On The Car Radio is a fine addition to that canon. A more than competent collection of a dozen original songs, written either alone or in collaboration with close associates. Rod Picott is one such associate, and another resident of that Venn intersection. The two are childhood friends, having grown up together in Maine. Picott has co-written four of the dozen tracks, including one, Drunken Barber's Hand, which he also included on his own 2016 album Fortune, although given a lighter arrangement here by Cleaves than the Peaky Blinders-esque darkness of Picott's offering.

The album is presented as a thematic collection of autobiographical and observational songs refecting the post-Trump "disappointment and disillusion", but the reality is more upbeat and timeless than that. Sure, there are songs for the day, reflecting a changing economic climate ('Hickory', 'Take Home Pay' and 'Little Guys') but contrast that with the upbeat radio-friendly poppiness of 'Already Gone', which opens the album, and there is hope beyond the despair.

A product of Maine but over twenty-five years living in Texas, Slaid Cleaves has produced another album of American acoustica straight out of Nashville.

Ian Taylor