Review: Snider too loose on tribute to Walker

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Todd Snider, “Time As We Know It _ The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker” (Aimless Records)

This labor of love needed more work.

Todd Snider released a fine new album of original material just last month, and on “Time As We Know It,” he pays homage to a singer he has admired since his teens, Jerry Jeff Walker. Both artists are known for their casual approach to the recording process, but this is a slapdash, ramshackle effort, with arrangements so loose they risk unraveling. The instrumental solos meander, several songs go on too long and Snider doesn’t even bother with a retake when he flubs a line on Walker’s best-known composition, “Mr. Bojangles.”

Not that these are performances are without their charm. This is the music of a roguish, hippy-dippy smart aleck who can’t seem to match his socks but cuts through the bull better than anyone else in the room _ meaning the material suits Snider.

He sings Walker’s songs as if they were his own, with a twinkle in his ragged tenor. Even the titles (for example, “Continuing Saga of the Classic Bummer Or Is This My One Way Bus Ticket to Cleveland”) sound like something Snider would write, and he occasionally updates a line, such as with his reference to Fat Tire beer.

The ballad “Hill Country Rain” makes a convincing case for carefree wanderlust, and the beer-fueled “Pissin’ In The Wind” is fun party music. But the album closer is a real clunker. Titled “Will There Be Any,” it shows how rough the transition from Saturday night to Sunday morning can be.

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: By taking a delicate approach to “Laying My Life On The Line,” Snider aptly showcases one of Walker’s prettiest tunes.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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