This was a surprising bit of news considering he had spent the last six years making rock albums of one kind or another. But Snider was feeling as if he had “maybe drifted too far from the shore.” He was feeling the pull to start over, to go back to what he was doing when he first began, to return to his roots as a folksinger.
If Snider needed any further evidence that was the direction he should pursue, he got it a half hour later. Back inside his home office, he checked his email and had one from his manager informing him he had just received an offer to play the 2019 Newport Folk Festival, an event he had never done.
Snider mentioned he had been listening to Woody Guthrie’s Library of Congress Recordings, then crossed the room to the turntable and put the needle down on side one of the record. “Woody Guthrie sometimes gets me reset on why you do a song, instead of how,” Snider explains of the man who has long been a touchstone for him. “When I was young, there was something about him that made me want to do it. So once or twice a year, I’ll go back to him, I’ll go back to the source.”
Guthrie famously had the words “This machine kills fascists” printed on his guitar, and on several of the songs on Snider’s new album, Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3, he squarely aims his guitar at the creeping fascism he sees in America. He had been wanting to make a political record since 2016, and although only half the songs lean in that direction, there is one constant throughout the album: a man, his guitar, and the truth.
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Snider has long been recognized as one of his generation’s most gifted and engaging songwriters, so it’s no surprise he has returned with a brilliant set of songs — and make no mistake, Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 contains some of his best work as a writer. But what really jumps out on the album is Snider’s growth as a musician and vocalist. He plays all the instruments on the record, and his guitar work and harmonica playing are nothing short of exceptional; not only full of feeling, but highly skilled. In regards to his guitar playing on the record, Snider says he wanted to take everything he’s learned over the past 30 years and play the way he used to play really well.
As far as his vocals on the album are concerned, Snider is singing with more confidence than ever, a confidence born in part from his time with Hard Working Americans doing nothing but sing. His stirring vocal performances range from slurring blues mumble to Dylanesque talking blues to gravely, honest ache.
Of the five songs on which Snider serves up his humorous brand of socio-political commentary, three are performed in the talking blues style: “Talking Reality Television Blues,” a hilariously accurate short history of television; “The Blues on Banjo,” a bad case of the blues caused by the sorry state of everything from the crooked international monetary-military-industrial complex to the spineless politicians who serve it and which references “Blue Suede Shoes,” Richard Lewis, and Townes Van Zandt; and “A Timeless Response to Current Events,” a brilliant bit of wordplay on which he calls bullshit on faux patriotism, crooked capitalism, and lying politicians. Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires contributed backing vocals on the latter two songs.
There are two other songs on the album featuring Snider’s socio-political points of view: “Just Like Overnight,” about the surprising inevitability of change, and “Framed,” written from the point of view of the framed ‘first dollar bill’ in a bar, a point of view that shows doing the right thing doesn’t pay.
There also are three songs with a music theme. If not for the events that led to the writing of one of those songs,“The Ghost of Johnny Cash,” there almost certainly would be no Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3. After a visit to Cash Cabin Studio for a Loretta Lynn session in 2015 where she recorded a song they cowrote, Snider began having a recurring dream about the studio that featured the Man in Black himself. The dream led him to book time at the studio and ultimately inspired him to write “The Ghost of Johnny Cash,” which tells the story of Loretta Lynn dancing with Cash’s ghost outside the studio in the middle of the night. As he did on much of the record, Snider played the century-old Martin that had long been Johnny Cash’s favorite instrument on that song.
Snider paid tribute to Cash’s longtime friend and confidante in another of the music-themed songs, “Cowboy Jack Clement’s Waltz.” Inspired by the iconic record man’s oft-quoted maxims regarding the art of recording, the song achingly laments Clement’s passing, while touchingly celebrating his legacy.
The album opens with the other song with a music theme, “Working on a Song.” It’s an existential exercise, a song Snider wrote about writing a song called “Where Do I Go Now That I’m Gone,” an idea he actually has been working on for thirty years, but which remains unfinished.
There are also two songs that are personal in nature: “Watering Flowers in the Rain,” which was inspired by a former associate of Snider’s whose nickname was “Elvis,” and “Like a Force of Nature,” a philosophical reflection on the orbital nature of friendships. Isbell also added harmony vocals to “Like a Force of Nature.”
If Snider is anything, he is a true artist, and he reminds us of that on Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3. At a point in time when the world has never been more complicated and confusing, with people getting louder and louder, Snider did a 180, went back to his roots as a folksinger, to a simpler, quieter form of expression; and it might be what the world is waiting to hear: just a man, his guitar, and the truth.
Michelle Malone’s musical roots run deep and wide like the mighty Mississippi river, twisting and turning through rock, blues, and alt-country music territory. She is ‘a master at mixing blues and Americana music” (GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE). Over the course of Malone’s career, she has shared stages with artists from Gregg Allman to Indigo Girls, SugarLand’s Kristian Bush to Brandi Carlisle, Mississippi All-Stars Luther Dickenson to ZZ Top, released more than a dozen records, and went indie when it still took guts. Her powerful live show will take you on a journey from red dirt back roads to bright city lights, whether she’s solo acoustic in a living room concert or in a big arena backed by her band. She ‘has the soul of a bluesman, the heart of a folk singer, and the guts of a rock and roll star wrapped up in one fiery bad ass’ (NASHVILLE RAGE), and she’s determined to bring the masses back together in the name of love and music with her latest, Slings and Arrows.
Held hostage by her record label at 21, the troubadour life came with a rude awakening for the young Georgia native. Peacock made her home in a ‘92 Volvo with her dog and a guitar, and for nearly seven years earned a living in the corner shadows of American dive bars.
The tables turned in 2011 when an anonymous fan helped Peacock buy out of her recording contract. Since then, she has released six additional albums and won multiple awards for her songwriting. “Hurricane” won Best Song in the American Songwriting Awards, and “Beautiful” was a winner with International Unsigned Only. “The Cool Kids,” and “Are We There Yet” have nominated her for Best Female Artist and Best Song in a number of songwriting competitions. Peacock was also named Listening Room Network’s Artist of the Year.
In 2013, Peacock released her self-produced album, Albuquerque Sky, recorded in hotel rooms across the country while maintaining her rigorous 250 show tour schedule. Albuquerque Sky was followed by a season of goodbyes, tremendous growth, and challenges, and became the catalyst for her next album, Dream On (2016). “This record helped me get un-stuck. I had a collection of live recordings which became Dream On. After such a creative dry spell, I knew I needed to hit the road and stay out a while – reconnect with my fans,” says a determined Peacock. “I found this old silver eagle tour bus in Austin, TX. I was so enchanted with it, and the renovation process really reigniting my troubadour flame. So I bought my very first bus. Oh, what a feeling!” But less than 4 months later, she would watch it burn to the ground at a California truck stop.
One of Peacock’s fans voluntarily initiated a fundraiser, which is what kept her on the road. Another fan, so touched by her story, donated his motor home so that her tour could go on. That special connection between Sarah Peacock and her fans is what gives her the strength to continue overcoming. “You have to be unstoppable, even when you don’t believe you are.” That’s the modus operandi for the now half Tennessean, half Texan road warrior.
Sarah Peacock is active in the anti-bullying community, and her song, “The Cool Kids” has become a powerful anti-bullying anthem. Its message has taken on a life of its own. As she travels the country, Peacock shares her story in schools, empowering young people to embody her message of kindness and love.
Peacock is also an animal lover and tours with her pups as often as she can. Her late road dog, Gibson, was one of the first canines to receive a prosthetic mitral valve in a clinical trial at CSU in Ft. Collins, CO in May of 2017. Unfortunately, Gibson passed away. To honor his memory, Peacock recently formed her own 501(c)3, The Band Waggin,’ benefiting various animal health and rescue programs throughout the United States.
After completing two EP’s for Nashville label, American Roots Records, Peacock plans to release a full length album on her own label in 2019. Sarah Peacock is the truest definition of a self-made overcomer, hustler, and DIY machine. She’s got a remarkable knack for finding beauty in the ashes, and there’s no denying the future is looking bright for this tenacious up and comer.