Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The stories that make up the songs of Slim Cessna and his band, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, are those steeped in hard luck. The people are not at all privileged and we image that they've got holes in the knees of their jeans, a canister of chewing tobacco in the hind pocket of those same jeans, a craving for moonshine or the next strongest and perhaps more kids than they know what to do with. They're living on scraps and they're doing as well as they can, in spite of the circumstances. When they're down on those holey knees, right before they go to sleep (perhaps a little wobbly from the activities of the evening), they get holy. They pray to Jesus Christ, because they refuse not to believe in SOMETHING, or someone, who might have his hands on some levers or controls. They pray for a garden variety of things, but they're hoping that they can be spared from heavy, medium or mild wrath, whatever anyone might be thinking of dishing out to them that following day. They're sure that some force has got it in for them and they're just trying to cover their asses because they can only try and live their lives, not bother anyone else and just go about their business, leaving as few foot and fingerprints as they can. They'd prefer to exist in the protective custody of their country hollers, their nooks of land where they can raise their ruckuses and fire guns. They can let the dogs run loose and slobbery and they can part their dead trucks over in the briar of weeds, to solemnly rust away, dust to dust. Cessna sings, "This is how it's always been/This is how we do things in the country," and that motto comes out throughout the entirety of the group's latest full-length album, "Unentitled." The banjo playing, easy grit and tone of the songs is indicative of folks who just continue to take their licks. They're getting pummeled. They're getting dirt rubbed into their hair when they're already down on the ground and they've been scraped up and spit on. Cessna sings, "This life will have its way with us," but even having to mention it is like preaching to the choir. There's no doubt about any of this. It's why the praying is going on pre-bedtime, hitting the sack every night. Anything that can offset life having its way with you is something that all of these people would happily be attentive to. This life will have its way with you is also somewhat misleading in another, suggesting that this is something that will happen down the road, some other day in the future, when it can be felt and recognized. The reality is that it's already having its way with all of these people, with all of us. After all, as Cessna sings, "You know, you know they're kicking you/When they are kicking you/There's no doubt about it"