Slaid Cleaves – Nottingham The Maze, Thursday October 22.
This Austin-based singer-songwriter has been a regular visitor to The Maze over the years, ever since his first appearance here in 2001. Back then – riding the crest of a resurgence of interest in alt-country Americana, thanks to his breakthrough album Broke Down – Slaid’s name was often mentioned in the same breath as another emerging talent: Ryan Adams, whose debut UK show took place at the same venue a few months earlier. But while Adams went on to be a fully-fledged, decidedly erratic rock star, Cleaves has ploughed a more even furrow, nurturing a loyal audience who have followed his career with affectionate interest.
Last night’s capacity crowd certainly knew their stuff, softly singing along with old favourites such as Horseshoe Lounge, and enthusiastically welcoming material from Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away: Slaid’s first self-penned album in five years, and an extended meditation on the theme of loss. As the artist himself says, “Whether it’s your loved ones, your way of life, or even just your sense of innocence and hope, every song in some way is about how it all gets taken away,”
Of the new songs, the opening track (Cry) and the closing track (Temporary) both stood out. A gifted singer, a compelling storyteller and an innately likeable performer, Slaid Cleaves is welcome to return here as often as he likes.