Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables by Todd Snider

If you’re reading this, we’ll assume that this album’s scrawled cover image and potentially offensive title didn’t send you scurrying to a page that looked safer. Good. Because if it’s something safe you’re after, you have no business here. Even those who squawk about the pop-polished, too-polite sound of contemporary country may find themselves unprepared for the barbed-wire edges on the latest album from offbeat folk-rocker Snider.

It would be easy, far too easy, to dismiss this disheveled collection based on its ragtag, purposely scruffy sound. While Snider has been more entertaining and melodically engaging on previous efforts, here he risks trying to get his head around the disturbing times in which we live and, just as importantly, to avoid clichéd responses. He mines surprising humor from difficult subjects and challenges status-quo schools of thought in ways that will, at the least, be off-putting to conservatives.

You could call Agnostic Hymns brave, misguided or downright unattractive, but you can’t call it dishonest. Even an agnostic might say “amen” to that.

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