Music » Livewire

Slaid Cleaves

With Graham Weber. Thursday, August 3, at the Beachland Tavern.

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Every roots musician must balance an audience's demand for tradition with its contempt for familiarity. Slaid Cleaves does both well. Now touring in support of his seventh album, Unsung, Cleaves confidently unfurls songs about sinners' prayers and drunken boxers, but his real gifts are great leaps of originality such as Wishbones' "Horses and Divorces," an amusing ode to a pair of life's stumbling blocks. When Cleaves rocks about life boiling down to "skin and wishbones" on the title track, there's suddenly a metaphor in the world that even coyotes can get behind. Cleaves is the answer for those troubled fans who want something classic and roomy, but who also just gotta have that new-car smell.

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