xtra_feature-9382Another gem, “Sinner’s Prayer,” from American songwriter Slaid Cleaves. Despite the dated intro with “For the Love of the Song” you get a deeply succinct (and awfully relatable!) look behind what prompted the writing:

When people see me on the street
They think they see an honest man
They don’t know what lies beneath
But some of them would understand
They know the soul and what it hides
You sometimes see it in their eyes
A guilty man where a child once stood
I’m not living like I should

This song, like any and all in the Slaid Cleaves discography, is replete with the human experience. It isn’t just for Americana charm that Cleaves, the harrowed Mainer-turned-Texan, sings about the sullied pawns and railroads, and old-time bars, and Old Milwaukee and 32s. He conjures old-time images to recover an old-time predicament: namely, that our lives are often known and defined by their stripping effects, by the things we have taken from us, and the things that don’t go according to plan because we change (his newest album, entitled Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away, says as much). Don’t get the impression from the arrangement and instrumentation that his songs are nostalgic–they may be sad country songs, but they also aren’t. His songwriting is much more than that, and his voice is purer (Live at the Horseshoe is a testament to this). Their scope isn’t limited to any place but the human heart–of our struggles in the face of death, “waiting for real life to start,” our pursuit of and longing for reprieve.

If you want more Slaid, well, start with these, and then listen to the Breakout on American Music, where he sits front-and-center:

1) “Cry

2) “One Good Year”

3) “Broke Down

4) “Black T Shirt

5) “No Angel Knows