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Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Todd Snider

Peace Queer (MRI)

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"Lately, my friends have been telling me that my songs have gotten more and more opinionated," says Todd Snider, struggling to explain himself on Peace Queer. Sure the romantic that normally populates Snider's musical landscape of Mellencamp-esque Americana seems to have suddenly found CNN, yet this isn't a complete departure from the "alright guy" that fans originally found so amusing. After all, Snider follows the clarification with, for him, typical reasoning: "I don't share opinions with you because I think they're smart… I share them because they rhyme."

Opening with the acoustic-driven, Bo Diddley-rhythm rocker "Mission Accomplished" and going into a hushed-up cover of the ever-timely "Fortunate Son," this is still the man who gives John Prine's humor a shot of cowpunk, adopts perspectives as brazenly as Randy Newman and always comes across as a full-blown devotee of Warren Zevon.

Not that Snider doesn't go a bit too good-guy-earnest on the spoken word, and not that open roads and bottles of wine don't make for more interesting songwriting fodder than left-wing righteousness, but the timing of Snider's particular brand of levity seems ideal-just this side of the deadline for what's-wrong-with-our-country-themed albums.

He actually might top off the genre perfectly with "Is This Thing Working?" It's a why-he-does-what-he-does exposition, an ode to "we've had enough" and a righteous exit theme song for everyone who saw the end days of the lame-duck administration and, with a long-awaited sigh, thought, "Finally."


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