If it wasn't always clear on earlier albums, the brilliantly played and thoughtfully written Street Symphony
sweeps away any doubts: the Subdudes
aren't just stellar musicians of the swampy jazz-rock-blues New Orleans persuasion, as they've come to be known. They're also a group of guys whose working-class roots run as definitively, and maybe as deeply, as Bruce Springsteen
's. Few bands give up the grit with this much conviction and skill: while the Katrina-themed "Poor Man's Paradise" delivers listeners straight to a Crescent City dock where a world-weary man and his dog get by on beer and scratches behind the ear, "Work Clothes" celebrates, in a genuinely joyful way, the subversive thrill of playing hooky for a day of fishing. And then there's all that soul. Tracks like "Brother Man" and "I'm Your Town" come off as blue-state anthems wrapped in a blue collar, but they're no less beautiful or multi-dimensional for it. In fact, plainspoken poetry this rich and robustly played lingers in a way that's pretty close to magical, revealing layers of truth that seem to get louder with each listen.