Photo by Karen Cleaves
“Craftsman” is a term that gets thrown around a lot with Slaid Cleaves. There’s nothing flashy to the veteran Austinite’s songs; he sings about manual laborers or war veterans trying to adjust to civilian life. As he says in a recent Rolling Stone interview, “I don’t feel any connection to the Dancing With the Stars, National Football League or CMT country music. I feel like I’m sort of living outside my culture in this little Americana world that we have. It’s a tiny part of the culture, but it’s very vibrant and has everything I need in it.”
But Cleaves still trains his incisive eye on the world at large. “I don’t need to read the papers or the tea leaves to understand / this world’s been shaved by a drunken barber’s hand,” he sings on “Drunken Barber’s Hand,” written with his longtime collaborator Rod Picott. The sad (or funny, depending on your mood) thing is, this song could have just as easily been written in 1517 as 2017. Perhaps more than anything, Cleaves keeps chipping away at the human condition, finding commonalities that unite the mainstream and the underground.
“Drunken Barber’s Hand” appears on Ghost On The Car Radio, out now. Slaid Cleaves plays an album release show at Stateside at the Paramount on July 16.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX