Slaid Cleaves has a novelist’s eye and a poet’s heart. Twenty years into his career, the celebrated songwriter’s new release Still Fighting the War shows an artist in peak form. Cleaves new collection of songs have carefully chiselled musical arrangements and wild and vivid song content, portrayed as cinematic snapshots which draw the listener in further on every replay.
Earthy narratives like: “Men go off to war for a hundred reasons/ But they all come home with the same demons”, in the opening album track is a good example of Cleaves songwriting talent. “Some you can keep at bay for a while/ Some will pin you to the floor/ You’ve been home for a couple of years now, buddy/ But you’re still fighting the war.” … Few artist can still deliver this sort of punch with such striking immediacy.
“I started ‘Still Fighting the War’ , Cleaves explains. four years ago and originally each verse was a separate character”“ Each verse was about getting swindled. One was about the economy, one was about a returning veteran, one was about a broken-up couple. It was too cumbersome, so I focused in on the soldier. The key that made it all work came as I was talking to my friend and occasional co-writer, Ron Coy. A troubled Vietnam vet buddy of his had recently passed away. Ron said, ‘All this time, it was like he was still fighting the war.’ I knew instantly that was the perfect way to summarise the song.”
“Normally when I start writing a new batch, a theme starts to emerge after three or four songs”“ says Cleaves, who built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago. “This time around I thought, I’m just gonna write where the muse takes me and each song will be its own thing. So I ended up with a CD that has a bit more variety on it compared to my previous releases. Half the songs are about struggle and perseverance and half are all over the place, some tongue-in-cheek stuff, a gospel song, a Texas pride song.”
All in all a great folking release that has been a constant musical companion to us for the last few month. We highly recommend that you buy the CD or download the album from the picture link below.