Slaid Cleaves: Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away

Slaid Cleaves has always had an interesting musical niche. Folkies and the Texas music crowd alike swoon over the laconic Yankee-turned-Texan whose music always seems like it was made for rainy days and stormy nights. Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away is only Cleaves's third (he's never been a fast worker) album since 2000's widely acclaimed Austin breakthrough, Broke Down. Once again working mainly with minimalist producer Gurf Morlix, Cleaves has hit a home run with this one. His strong suit has always been his unique delivery, and subtlety abounds in the quiet arrangements on tunes like "Dreams," "Beyond Love" and the sweet country lilt of "The Green Mountains and Me." Cleaves sounds a little meaner on the dark "Run Jolee Run," about a heroine's flight from the abusive man who's been threatening her: "She walked into the pawn, said I'll take the little .32." "Hard to Believe" is, according to Morlix, a "song for our times," and it's a bull's-eye: "Here comes another blown up kid from over there, trying to make the world safe for the millionaires." Meanwhile, the humorous "Tumbleweed Stew" should be burning up the Texas music airwaves with singalong lines like "Where can a good man go crazy, where can a cowboy get stoned?" Cleaves is at the pinnacle of his craft, and moving into sublime new lyrical and musical territory.

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