Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables

Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables

From his opening rasp, Todd Snider channels Randy Newman. He wryly serves himself up as the town crier and gets down to business with a greasy blues that traces the history of inequality and touches on the history of religion. The Occupy movement might find its most caustic musical spokesman in Snider. However, he's not one to be easily characterized. "New York Banker" tells of a teacher who learns what happened to his retirement nest egg, but Snider unspools plenty of other stirring tales. "Brenda" is a love song for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; it's based on Keith's nasty nickname for his lifelong pal and features a Richards-like guitar riff. "West Nashville Grand Ballroom Gown" is done up as a gnarled cover of the Jimmy Buffett tune. Fact is, the sound of this album is raw and fantastic, reliant on Snider's rudimentary acoustic guitar, Amanda Shires' hearty violin, and vocal harmonies that are rough and ready to take on all challenges.

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