Album Review: Live: The Storyteller by Todd Snider
Exceptionally Good, Based on 5 Critics
Rolling Stone - 100 Based on rating 5/5
Todd Snider decided to quit his high school football team during his first mushroom trip; years later, he got conned by someone impersonating a NASCAR driver and found himself fronting a country cover band after a drunk woman knocked the original singer on his ass. It's all there on The Storyteller, the populist folkie's career-spanning concert LP. Unlike Snider's last live album, this one features a full band that powers a beer-raising cover of Rusty Wier's "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance?" But Snider's hilarious banter and self-deprecating stories are the focus: See "Greencastle Blues," about a shameful drug-possession arrest where Snider laughs to keep from crying.
Songwriter’s songwriter creates hilarious and heartbreaking time capsule of life in our time Comedy albums aside, I’ve never laughed so many times listening to a record as I did when I put on Todd Snider’s The Storyteller. And I’m not talkin’ about a little chuckle. I laughed, loudly and involuntarily. Snider is one of the wittiest folks to ever pick up a six-string.
"I make these songs up an' I sing ‘em for anyone that'll listen to ‘em. Some of ‘em are sad, some are funny, some are short, some seem like they go on forever, sometimes I may ramble on for as many as 18 minutes in between a particular song … I wanna thank y'all for giving me a chance to do this again, and if everything goes particularly well this evening, we can all expect a 90-minute distraction from our impending doom. " Todd Snider addresses his audience for the first of several times about 14 minutes into this two-disc live album, and in about a minute, he sums up his outlook and his performing style so well that a further review almost seems superfluous.
Although Todd Snider's made albums since the mid-1990s, he must be experienced in person to fully appreciate his talents. This double-disc set does a magnificent job of capturing the onetime San Marcos scenester's genius, a heady combo of post-folk punk and stoned comedian not witnessed since the passing of Mitch Hedberg. At times he's backed by Americana standouts Great American Taxi, featuring guitarist Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, with a few tracks picked on by Snider alone with just his trusty acoustic guitar.
You’ve probably heard this truism before, “To fully appreciate this artist, you have to see him play live.” In most cases, that turns out to be an exaggeration, if not untrue. It’s only the rare performer who can eclipse his recorded material, and offer his audience something transcendent, something intangibly special. Bruce Springsteen immediately jumps to mind as the obvious archetype, but there are many more, of course.