Music Review: Todd Snider's great 'Crank It, We’re Doomed' finally arrives after 16 years in the can

This cover image released by Aimless Records/Thirty Tigers shows "Crank It, We’re Doomed" by Todd Snider. (Aimless Records/Thirty Tigers via AP)

A singer-songwriter with the persona of a fried folkie can be expected to work at a poky pace, as is the case of Todd Snider. His “Crank It, We’re Doomed” album has been a long time coming, despite the urgency of its title.

Snider recorded the 15-song album in 2007 before shelving it. Much of the material subsequently surfaced elsewhere and will be familiar to fans when “Doomed” is finally released Friday.

Even so, it ranks among Snider’s strongest collections. Four songs have never been released before, including the bluesy stomper “Juice” and “What Made You Do It,” a marvel of cool jazz that evokes Tom Waits singing to Billy Joe Shaver.

Other highlights include a brief star turn by Kris Kristofferson on “Good Fortune” and Snider’s duet with Loretta Lynn on “Don’t Tempt Me,” which they co-wrote. “Anyone can see you’re stoned as a rock,” she sings.

These garage-folk versions of tunes, available elsewhere, are often significantly different. “Mercer’s Folly” combines the words for one later song with the music for another. A cover of Jimmy Buffett ’s “West Nashville Grand Ballroom Gown” is stripped down to two acoustic guitars, while fiddle and organ underpin “America’s Favorite Pastime,” a great song written about performance-enhancing drugs.

Snider strings together non sequiturs that seem seamless as he contemplates love and greed, war and peace, the cycle of life and what matters most.

Whether he’s singing a song that’s old or new, Snider always sounds like a busker on the corner of sanity and madness.


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