Todd Snider Happy To Be Here (Oh Boy)
Happy To Be Here (Oh Boy)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., May 5, 2000
Happy To Be Here (Oh Boy)1994's Songs From the Daily Planet, Todd Snider's first release, showed the former San Marcos-based troubadour to be an engaging songwriter with a slightly twisted point of view. Since then, his recorded efforts have lost some of that charm, to the point that he resorted to covering a Steve Miller song on his last album -- a move that should send up a red flag anytime. It's a satisfying task, then, to report that Happy To Be Here finds Snider back on track. Whether writing storied social commentary or penning heart-rending odes of love, Snider has an uncommon ability to put his thoughts into words and music that constantly ring true. For his debut on John Prine's longtime launching pad, he's enlisted Ray Kennedy's producing talents, best evidenced on his work with Steve Earle, and the combination works superbly. None of Snider's new songs scream or are particularly angry, and Kennedy appropriately supplies some gentle, yet effective, musical backdrops. The subtle horn touches added to the sultry "Long Year" and the lively, Dixieland-style "Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern" are two examples of artist and producer bringing new character to the singer's sound (which he calls "soul-folk"). Happy's 13 songs cover a wide range of styles and feelings, and the fact that they all hang together and flow without appearing awkward or pretentious proves Snider has finally matured into the top-notch songwriter Central Texas always knew he could be.