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Todd Snider

The Storyteller – 2011 (Aimless)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Todd Snider

"Some of this trouble just finds me," sings journeyman folk singer/troubadour Todd Snider on Greencastle Blues, the opening track of this career-spanning live collection, and that about sums up the kind of things that either happened directly to him or the characters that populate his songs, a distinction that's blurred more often than not.

There's a full band backing Snider throughout, which adds some heft musically but it's mostly unnecessary as the focus is more on the words and the outrageous stories between the songs. From the mushroom trip he was on when he decided to quit the high school football team to the hilarious shaggy-dog story about a Bill Elliot impersonator, Snider is more a stand-up comedian at times than a singer-songwriter.

Even when he sings, the songs lend themselves to an almost spoken delivery where Snider crams more words than the meter should allow into the available space. As he says before Doll Face, "I got another story song for you," as if he has anything else in his arsenal, before launching into a talking blues tall tale.

Casual Snider fans may be disappointed that few of his best known songs are included, though a lovely version of East Nashville Skyline and a rousing sing-along rendition of Conservative Christian, Right Wing Republican, Straight White American Male show up on the second disc. Anyone who hasn't witnessed a live set may also be surprised by the amount of profanity in both the stories and songs, but easily offended people are probably unlikely to be listening to an acerbic opinionated entertainer such as Snider, anyway.