Hard Working Americans

Todd Snider specializes in bitingly funny, populist country-rock storytelling (his 2012 album Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables was a vivid Great Recession indictment). Here, he convenes a tough, versatile band for a set of rootsy, lefty covers like the Bottle Rockets' "Welfare Music" and Frankie Miller's desperate 1959 hit "Blackland Farmer," which is redone with taut New Orleans swing. The highlight is a country-blues take on Randy Newman's "Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)," maybe an unfair pick in an age of brickwall GOP opposition but sung with an angst as old as labor itself.

From The Archives Issue 1201: January 30, 2014