Todd Snider

New Connection

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New Connection -- Todd Snider's fifth album and the second for John Prine's Oh Boy label -- finds the singer riding atop a warm band featuring Jason Wilber and David Jacques (both of Prine's touring unit), Paul Griffith, and Will Kimbrough. Like Kevn Kinney, Snider's voice alternates between a drawl and a scratch, occasionally dropping into Jim White-like whispers. It is in these cracks that Snider finds a wry strength, which he hangs on his almost traditional singer/songwriter wares. There are humorous tunes -- "Vinyl Records," "Beer Run," and "Statistician's Blues" -- but they're rarely anything more than cute. "Broke," meanwhile, sounds like a Nashville version of Lou Reed's "Goodnight Ladies." Snider gets a few elegiac beauties into the mix, too, including the subtly produced "Easy" and the almost heartbreaking "Class of 85." These are fine songs. Prine takes a guest turn on his own "Crooked Piece of Time," which fits in with the rest of the record almost too well.

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