Dan Reeder Dan Reeder

You can keep your union songs about slaving for a better minimum wage because Dan Reeder has a song that offers the real voice of the American proletariat. The absolutely brilliant "Work Song,” sung in churchy three-part harmony, offers the exquisite mantra: "I got all the fuckin' work I need" over and over again. Take that Billy Bragg. Eight words is all Reeder needed to express the thoughts of, oh about 800 million workers worldwide. It is this devilishly direct songwriting that makes Reeder stand apart in the folk world. That and the fact that he plays mostly homemade instruments and makes no bones about writing super-indie trash blues/gospel/country fusion with off-centre observations on the ordinary life of a middle-aged loser. Check out "The Tulips on the Table" for instance, where the singer slowly realises his wife has fallen out of love with him, or "No One Will Laugh,” which argues for the right to screw up playing even the simplest song, something Reeder probably does, but never on this album. Signed to John Prine's Oh Boy Records, everything about this debut seems self-fashioned: from the kinder-craft cover design and the photos of some very dubious looking instruments, to the sounds of one man recording songs you might make up yourself in the tenth hour of an overtime shift, or maybe while pondering life on the crapper. Where else can you find a song called "Food and Pussy" that sounds as sincere as if the words were really about a childhood pet? That, along with titles like "The Coolest Blues Ever" and "The World's Slowest Blues" are only three of the 18 reasons to buy this 18-track record. (Oh Boy)