I've never been a big fan of the now defunct, so-called "freak folk" craze, but I really liked the Wooden Wand & the Sky High Band record from 2006, called Second Attention.
Well this album is even more accessible than that one, and I think James Jackson Toth has become a more mature writer and lyricist. "Winter in Kentucky" and "The DNR Waltz" are the heartbreaking songs on the record. I love the lines "First snow of the season / the church give me 50 bucks to shovel out the parking lot. / No use thinking out loud when you're the only one that hears / But I can listen to Jimmy Dale and watch my breath blow out like foggy flames / ain't got to call nobody 'sir.'" And "The DNR Waltz" is about the futility of dead-end endeavors.
Heartbreaking. I keep reading dismissive reviews that compare this record to Drive By Truckers and, of all people, the guy from Hold Steady, but this is way more like classic Dylan and Van Morrison both in lyrical songwriting and Toth's phrasing.
This is an album to buy for your dad, who probably still appreciates good lyrical songwriting. You might find that you like it, too. It's full of humanity, which is a rare thing in songwriting today.
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