Slaid Cleaves' 1997 album No Angel Knows was produced by Lucinda Williams' band guitarist Gurf Morlix and comes out of similar singer/songwriter territory. The acoustic-band feel that ran through Morlix's previous small label recordings with Maine band the Moxie Men combines with the Texas troubadour tradition to produce a sound resembling that of Peter Case, Darden Smith or Robert Earl Keen. A song from Cleaves' early days revisited, a co-write with childhood friend Rod Picott in "Wrecking Ball," and others capture small-town stories as well as Morlix's more famous employer. There's also a hint of Springsteen's passion for cars, rivers and bleak working-class lives on tracks such as "Last of the V-8's" or the defiant "Not Going Down." The fine production enhances a set every bit as good as Cleaves' 1992 Life's Other Side, which led to his receiving a Kerrville New Folk songwriter award, or the 1993 self-released For the Brave & Free which employed a host of Austin musicians. File under literate country-tinged folk-rock with a touch of swing.
AllMusic Review by Shaun Belcher