Todd Snider first garnered attention with his 1994 single, "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," from his debut, Songs From the Daily Planet. Unfortunately, the too-clever, Dylanesque sendup of the Emerald City's self-indulgence -- coupled with his too-handsome publicity shots -- caused many to write him off as a novelty act. Ten years later, East Nashville Skyline, Snider's seventh album and the fourth released by John Prine's Oh Boy Records, proves he's far more than a one-hit wonder. Skyline is full of the songwriter's trademark wit and is balanced by serious reflections on mortality inspired by departed friends and his own battles with addiction. Songs such as "The Ballad of the Kingsmen" and "Conservative, Christian, Right-Wing, Republican, Straight, White, American Males" are social satire in the mold of Snider's first single, while "Age Like Wine" and "Tillamook County Jail" are darkly humorous glimpses into Snider's psyche. Treading in the footsteps of Dylan and Prine, Snider focuses more on lyrical skill and humor than on musical innovation. The result is amusing folk rock that always sounds pleasantly familiar, even upon first listen. And Snider's live shows, performed as one long standup routine with occasional musical interruptions, will send you home with an aching belly and a smile on your face.
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