Long-awaited return of New England philosophy major-cum-troubadour

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Slaid Cleaves – Wishbones

Four years on from the paradoxically titled breakthrough album Broke Down and Austin-based Cleaves is still ploughing familiar terrain?road songs and hard-luck tales for the lonely and dispossessed. With regular producer Gurf (Lucinda Williams) Morlix again on the mixing desk, there’s an unmistakable impression of water being trodden here, but what he does, he does admirably: frayed-at-the-seams country-folk the slender side of Steve Earle, Springsteen blues without the pomp. The title track and fiddle/cello-coloured “Below” are exceptional.