The music of Austin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Slaid Cleaves is rooted in country and traditional folk songs, but it is unusual enough to have held interest in a sea of singer/songwriters across the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s.
While Slaid Cleaves released a handful of recordings during the early ’90s, he gained significant notice with No Angel Knows, which was released on Rounder’s Philo subsidiary in 1997. Joined by former Lucinda Williams guitarist Gurf Morlix, Cleaves combined his passion for folk songs, blues, and traditional country music into an amalgamation of styles known as Americana. Not surprisingly, the album rode high into the charts at Americana-formatted radio stations around the U.S. and Canada in 1997. The release set the tone for the rest of his career.
After many years in Portland, Maine, he sought new mountains to climb, and found some of them after moving to Austin, Texas, in 1992. Despite the echelon of great singer/songwriters like Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Guy Clark, and Joe Ely all centered around the Austin scene, Cleaves was able to make a name for himself there. The next decade plus saw Slaid release six critically acclaimed albums. His most recent record Ghost on the Car Radio found Cleaves exploring the traditions of American small town life.