Hard Working Americans are a supergroup fronted by singer-songwriter Todd Snider, along with members of Widespread Panic, The Cardinals and Great American Taxi. Their eponymous debut was recorded at ex-Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir’s TRI studio. Hard Working Americans sounds like a pleasant cross between Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and Bob Dylan, and was intended to be an ode to all of the blue-collar laborers who help keep the country running.
The opener, “Blackland Farmer,” gives the listener a taste of what’s to come with a rockabilly feel and the story of people working the land. “Stomp And Holler” is the first single released from the record and was originally written by Texas singer-songwriter Hayes Carll. It is a danceable country rock tune about a man letting out all of his built-up anger. The most Boss-like track on the album is “Straight To Hell,” a slow, melancholic ballad of someone down on his luck who is turned away by everyone he knows. While it starts off quietly, it transforms into a roaring chorus about him accepting his fate.
“Welfare Music” allows Hard Working Americans to really convey their political beliefs with the lyrics, “She quit school when she was 17/The senator calls her welfare queen.” It asks the question, “Will she ever stand a chance?” and is a song about teen pregnancy, abortion, deadbeat fathers and the struggle to make it back from a setback without the help of the government.
The album is well done, and accomplishes the band’s goal of singing about the people who give a lot and don’t get enough in return. It combines punk’s distrust of authority, country’s arrangements, and folk rock’s melodies to create a wonderful debut.
In A Word: Political