Personnel: Slaid Cleaves (organ, rattle); Gurf Morlix (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric 12-string guitar, lap steel guitar, resonator guitar, baritone guitar, organ, background vocals); Michael OConnor, Rod Picott (acoustic guitar); Charles Arthur (electric guitar, piano, Wurlitzer organ); Billy Bright (mandolin); Gene Elders (fiddle); Steve Foley (English horn); Stewart Myers (organ); Rick Richards, Brian Jones (drums); Trish Murphy (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Gurf Morlix; Lars G?ransson.
Liner Note Author: Stephen R. King.
Recording information: Rootball Studio, Austin, TX; The Bee Hive, Austin, TX; White Star Sound, Louisa, VA.
Author: Stephen R. King.
Photographer: Karen Cleaves.
It is odd that Slaid Cleaves has allowed a bad but wildly popular novelist like Stephen King to write the liner notes for his album Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away, since, as a songwriter, he far more closely resembles a good but much less popular short-story writer like Raymond Carver. Of course, when a famous person offers to write an appreciation of you, it's hard to refuse, at least from a marketing point of view. Unfortunately and inevitably, the notes are written in King's semi-literate style; at least they're enthusiastic. Nevertheless, Cleaves continues to make like a Southwest Raymond Carver on Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away, his first album of largely new material in five years. People on life's fringes -- including a high-school dropout, a cowboy turned drug runner and illegal-alien smuggler, a woman whose husband is away at war, another woman who's abused by her husband and takes her revenge with a gun, and an executioner recalling the days of public hangings -- tell their stories or have them told by the songs' narrators, sung in Cleaves' drawling tenor. Love and money always seem to run out, and violence is never far away. Drinking and drugging occur frequently. Life is hopeless, but people continue to live, at least for a while. Cleaves is particularly incensed about the wars that are luring young Americans away to be killed, maimed, or psychologically devastated, such that the political side of his work begins to recall Steve Earle. But it is the personal impact he is concerned with primarily. The stories are told over attractive folk/country/rock arrangements, which to some extent ameliorate the gloom. But these are not Stephen King-like stories of harmless fantasy-horror. They are tales of dead-end desperation told with the unflinching precision of Raymond Carver. Too bad Carver died 20 years too early to write his appreciation of Slaid Cleaves. ~ William Ruhlmann
Dirty Linen (p.55) - "[Cleaves] continues to paint a sorrowful world of loss, failed chances, and heartbreak....Set to well-crafted pop-folk arrangements..."