Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., June 7, 2002
Todd SniderNew Connection (Oh Boy) Todd Snider's last effort, 2000's Happy to Be Here, was a breakthrough of sorts. It brought the singer-songwriter, who grew up in part in Austin, back to his folk roots, and with the addition of a little soul, it made for a sweet and touching listen. New Connection picks up in almost the exact spot Happy to Be Here left off, but what seemed fresh and insightful the first time, seems like a drag this go-round. Snider appears to be slipping rather nicely into his own groove, as his songs continue to demonstrate an easygoing frame of mind that's offset by some more intense moments. Novelty tunes like "Vinyl Records" and "Beer Run" show off his slightly warped world-view, while heart-rending odes like "Anywhere" and "Close Enough to You" reveal another side that's sober and oh-so-serious. Unfortunately, New Connection has too many moments that seem forced or incomplete. Tunes like pop sing-along "Easy" and the country rock "Rose City" attempt big meaning, yet never really go anywhere. There's a duet with Snider's mentor John Prine on "Crooked Piece of Time," a Prine composition, that's appropriately rough and rambling, but the high points on New Connection are scarce. In the past, Snider has proved to be a songwriter with a sharp lyrical eye and the ability to write about deeper emotions, and with those elements generally missing in action on New Connection, it ends up being old hat.