Slaid Cleaves spins stories with a novelist’s eye and a poet’s heart. 25 years into his storied career, Cleaves' songwriting has never been more potent than on his recent album "Ghost on the Car Radio." The characters in his songs live in unglamorous reality. They work dead-end jobs, they run out of money, they grow old, they hold on to each other (or not) and they die. With an eye for the beauty in everyday life, he tells their stories, bringing a bit of empathy to their uncaring world. On "Take Home Pay," co-written with longtime friend Rod Picott, Cleaves sings from the perspective of an aging manual laborer, fighting looming regret and sadness with stubborn resiliency (and opioid use).
"Ghost on the Car Radio" is Cleaves' first release since 2013's "Still Fighting the War," which was praised as "one of the year's best albums" by American Songwriter and "carefully crafted...songs about the struggles of the heart in hard times" by the Wall Street Journal. The New York Daily News called his music "a treasure hidden in plain sight," while the Austin Chronicle declared, "there are few contemporaries that compare. He's become a master craftsman on the order of Guy Clark and John Prine."