Stories Under Nails
If Karl Childers, the croaking, wise-fool protagonist of the movie Sling Blade, had been created to make a mutant country-folk record instead of to fix lawn mowers and kill bad boyfriends, the result would probably sound a lot like Stories Under Nails. Ben Weaver delivers his stark, doleful lyrics in a slow-motion baritone drawl over music created to evoke vast open prairies and two-lane roads fading into the distance to the sound of moaning steel guitars, creepy, somnambulistic banjo twanging, sparsely strummed guitars, near-cataleptic bass rhythms and percussion like an elegant collection of tin cans, 50-gallon drums, and high-end electronic drums. “From the banks of that old mission under a vein of sycamore/ I lay like a switchblade reflecting the moon/ Scraping the spine blood from a trout with the back of my thumb/ Start a fire on the beach and just lay listening to it burn,” Weaver slowly intones in “Old Mission,” and we hear rural echoes of Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones. Highly recommended for those who appreciate down-and-out exotica.