Near Truths and Hotel Rooms Live
This engaging set emphasizes the storytelling side of Todd Snider’s talents giving him room to tease, tickle and provoke an appreciative crowd. His debts to the likes of John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker seem obvious here, though Snider’s personal vulnerability and incisive Southern wit are distinctly his own. Highlights include the droll character sketches “Doublewide Blues” and “I Can’t Complain,” the perceptive “Tension” and the tender, elegiac “Waco Moon.” Snider sometimes goes for the easy laughs, as “Beer Run” and “Broke” show. But he’s also capable of razor-sharp, Mort Sahl-like satire, as “Statistician’s Blues” reveals. Todd’s between-song patter is not to be missed, with “The Story of the Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern” offering some revealing memories of his scuffling days. His show-biz commentary “Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues” is included, though its topicality has faded with time. What’s most appealing about Near Truths and Hotel Rooms Live is Snider’s effortless way with a crowd — you can’t help liking this guy, warts and all.