Although working in similar veins of country and folk, singer-songwriters Slaid Cleaves and Hayes Carll come to greatness from remarkably divergent paths. Cleaves is a more traditional tunesmith, parlaying friendships with Lucinda Williams and Gurf Morlix into a decade's worth of solid releases--all pleasant, mannered and respectable. Carll brings a Stonesian swagger to his brand of well-lubricated country, oftentimes looking more like the custodial help than a performer. His gruff appearance belies a sentimental streak that relies on humor as much as heart as evidenced by such standout songs as "Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long" and "Down the Road Tonight." Carll just signed a new deal with Lost Highway, and if his work there matches either of his indie releases, legitimate country is all the better off. Songwriting of the caliber of Cleaves and Carll rarely appears in such a concentrated dose.