my fred eaglesmith playlist at this point consists of 202 songs, albums stretching from 1983 to 2013. I'm shocked i wasn't aware, actually, before i was martyred to miranda lambert's version of his 'time to get a gun.' it might be the greatest body of songwriting in a country vein in that period, and one of the greatest of recording artistry. over and over and etc he is just an astonishing lyricist: these songs are so beautifully and poetically crafted, and yet so connected to country and blues traditions, with a rare combination of skill and simplicity.
though the songs have some things in common across the whole body - especially a melancholy-to-devastated mood - the work is remarkably varied. it's hard to believe listening to his recent stuff, but in the '80s he could do a classic bluegrass tenor, with excellence and also rough authenticity, and plus he could write bluegrass/acoustic country songs that sound like classics from the late 1940s and '50s, that could have been recorded by the stanleys, for example.
the combination of simplicity and subtlety makes him sound classic to me. stuff like this is framed in a more electric country vein:
what a beautiful piece of writing. fucking perfect.
several of the albums, such as 'cha cha cha' have really very distinctive sonic approaches, and whatever he gets into, eaglesmith handles beautifully; the instrumental and production frame comes out intrinsic to the lyrics and singing.
for example, i'm always a sucker for that farfisa/texmex thing, which he pulls out on tambourine.
the oeuvre is too vast to really do justice to without really going long, but i'd urge you to explore. rarely has someone so great been so underappreciated.
that's audrey auld on the duet, i believe. he does often return to guns, one way or another. of course, that's very traditional in country music (as hip hop, for example), and i would urge the police and academic administrators even in oklahoma not to construe the songs as death threats.
i'll say again that this one is just an astonishing composition:
sometimes he sounds like ralph stanley, sometimes like prine or dylan, sometimes like steve earle or vice versa, often only like himself.