Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 by Todd Snider

High Notes

By Ron Powers

Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 by Todd Snider

Photo courtesy of Stacy Hukeba

On Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 Todd Snider employs the great forms of Folk, Blues, and Country to frame his views on life, love, and politics. Using bare-bone arrangements, Snider continues in the centuries-old tradition of American Roots music and brings us a collection of picture-perfect songs.

The first thing that struck me about Cash Cabin was its parallels to Bob Dylan’s second studio album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.  At times, Snider’s vocal is strikingly similar to Dylan’s. Snider also has a wit and charm which bears a resemblance. These similarities feel much less like mimicry though. It’s more a case of being cut from the same cloth.

Cash Cabin begins with a tune called “Working on a Song”. Here, Snider poetically expresses the often heartbreaking experience of chasing a dream. This song’s emotional impact is largely expressed through the way Snider sings it. There’s a touching vulnerability to his delivery. You almost hear tears welling up as he sings the lines.

Next, we hear a more playful song called “Talking Reality Television Blues”. This is one of my favorites off the LP. Here, Snider takes us on an abbreviated journey through the history of Television and makes a thought-provoking connection between it and the current state of American politics. It’s songs like these that put Todd Snider in the rare class of musicians who actually have something to say.

Cash Cabin isn’t just a quaint collection of well written tunes. At times it’s as if nature herself is possessing Snider, breathing a message to the world. This is most evident on songs like “A Timeless Response to Current Events”. Here we get a glimpse into the historic knowledge, and social/political insight Snider has. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to hand it to him for having an opinion.    

Snider continues with this socially conscious theme with “The Blues on Banjo”. On this song, Snider delivers scathing indictments against who he understands to be the corrupt corporations running the planet. Snider is no people pleaser. He makes it crystal clear what he thinks about certain power structures. Yet he always maintains a lightness and humility which distinguishes him from just another angry protester railing against the greedy fat cats.

Snider uses the blues to do what the blues does best. Namely taking a bad situation and making something true and beautiful out of it. He also understands how to employ the power of story through song. This is most evident on the endearing introduction tracks to “Cowboy Jack Clement’s Waltz” and “Watering Flowers in the Rain”. Here, we listen to Snider deliver brief narratives introducing each song. This sparks new interest in the album and creates anticipation for the songs that follow.

There’s a playful honesty to Cash Cabin and an intimacy which draws a listener in. You feel like you’re just hanging out with the songwriter while he shows you these new tunes he’s drummed up. Snider’s influences include some of the greatest musicians of our time. Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 is convincing evidence that some of that greatness has rubbed off.

If you would like to listen to Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol 3 you can find it on Apple Music, Google Music, Spotify etc. Snider has appeared locally at the Birchmere in Alexandria so watch their schedule for an upcoming gig. To learn more about the artist, visit his website at ToddSnider.net

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