Slaid Cleaves (from the album Ghost on the Car Radio)
At its origins, Country music was not a sound, it was about the lives of the people that the stories referenced and effected, like the characters in Ghost on the Radio, the recent release from Slaid Cleaves. His eyes see more than the window-dressings of the world as Slaid takes the lump of coal adage to heart and finds the diamonds in everyday lives, singing from inside the skin of the men and women he writes about in the tales. The souls on the inside of Ghost on the Car Radio are aware of the times we live in, they sink but never go under the waterline, acknowledging the hurdles as they step over or barrel through the barriers they wake up to each morning, getting out of bed with optimism as their feet hit the floor. Slaid Cleaves navigates through the static to find beauty in everyday lives as he channel surfs Ghost on the Car Radio, secure in his belief that ‘as befits the times we live in, there's a heavy dose of disappointment and disillusion here. Yeah, things are pretty bad out there. But there's still some good stuff if you know where to look’.
Slaid Cleaves steps through the door at Dickie’s Place on a soft Country shuffle, finding “The Old Guard” waiting in the glow of liquor signs, feeling at home when a jukebox plays “Cryin’ Time” as the boys at the bar sip and nod knowing that “heartbreak goes down easier with beer and rhyme’. Ghosts on the Car Radio gets a strong signal from small town living as it slowly drives down streets named for the trees cleared to make room for housing developments on “Hickory”, sees closed signs hanging in the windows of mom and pop businesses pushed aside by big box stores in “Little Guys”, watches workers head to the pawn shop to augment “Take Home Pay” as car jockeys cruise by riding chrome horses painted “Primer Gray”. A rattle of rhythm shakes and shimmies as the joys of life sit in the passenger seat next to questionable decisions in “Drunken Barber’s Hand”. Slaid Cleaves scribes the stories of troubles faced as his pen finds the emotion beating inside chests in “If I Had a Heart” while he promises to ‘make one lie come true”. An understanding of human ways is collected and dispersed on Ghosts on the Car Radio as the album runs out of doctors and mechanics to fix what’s broken as it makes one last trip to the “Junkyard” while Slaid Cleaves listens to his own heartbeat as he admits to shortcomings in “To Be Held”, chases a second chance on “Still Be Mine”, and smiles at the road ahead while looking at the past in his rear-view mirror with “So Good to Me”.