("Exploring the Classics" (ETC) is an ongoing series in which I highlight and discuss an album from country music's past that is of particular noteworthiness due to general acclaim, influence, historical import, commercial success, or some combination thereof. While in many instances I'll be revisiting albums with which I've long been familiar, in others I'll be experiencing these works for the first time. What albums count as "noteworthy" is obviously highly subjective and determined at my discretion, but I'm not too strict about it. I do, however, feel that these are the works that tell the story of country music and all of its many roots and branches.)
There are some songs that are extremely catchy and fun to listen to. And then there are songs with great lyrics that blow you away by their profundity or ingeniousness. But only rarely does a song fall into both of these categories. But dare I say it, I think that describes close to the majority of tracks on Todd Snider's terrific 2006 album, The Devil You Know.
Todd Snider released a string of solidly-received alt-countryish albums throughout the '90s and early '00s, and even got a small taste of mainstream success when both Gary Allan and Mark Chesnutt cut one of his songs, but he never seemed to fully realize his potential and put it all together for one album. That all changed in 2004 when he released what many consider to be his finest work, East Nashville Skyline. He then followed it up in 2006 with The Devil You Know, which made many year-end lists and in my view nearly equals its predecessor.