June 2007

Todd Snider - Peace, Love and Anarchy
Oh Boy Records-OBR-037
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***
Recording Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

"There is nothing wrong with Nashville," Todd Snider sings with more than a hint of irony on Peace, Love and Anarchy. The spare version of "Nashville" that opens this collection of demos and B-sides differs from the one that appeared on East Nashville Skyline, one of four discs Snider recorded for John Prine’s Oh Boy label. The latter recording is more fleshed out and it rocks harder, but Snider’s demo conveys a more complex mixture of affection and bemusement. It isn’t surprising that Snider ended up on Prine’s label. They share a sly, subversive sense of humor and a songwriting style that crosses boundaries into folk, country, and rock'n'roll.

Half the tunes on Peace, Love, and Anarchy feature Snider alone, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Presenting the songs in such a stripped-down manner sometimes reveals them to be built on predictable chord progressions, as is the case with "Nashville" and "Feel Like I’m Falling in Love." On the other hand, "Missing You" and "Some Things Are" benefit from the emotional directness such simplicity affords. Still, it’s the more fully realized tunes, including "Old Friend" and the cow-punk "Cheatham Street Warehouse," that give a real taste of how good Snider can be.

In other words, Peace, Love, and Anarchy is for completists who want to gain some insight into how Snider’s more careful recordings evolve. Accordingly, the recording quality varies from acceptable to good.