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Listen: Eli Paperboy Reed Bridges Country and Soul in Channeling Merle Haggard

Country and soul might seem worlds apart, but they come powerfully together on the new collection from Eli Paperboy Reed - Down Every Road (out April 29 on Yep Roc Records) - the "inspired and raw" (NPR) musician's tribute to country legend Merle Haggard.

Best known as a soul shouter and balladeer, Reed returns with a twelve-song album that reveals country roots dating all the way back to his childhood. From those earliest days sifting through his father's record collection, it was country music that first captivated Reed's imagination...the voice of George Jones, the attitude of Waylon Jennings and, above all, the songwriting of Merle Haggard.

"It was so aggressively honest and edgy," Reed remembers of first hearing Haggard. "He could get to the heart of these extraordinarily complicated emotional sentiments in two-and-a-half minutes, and that was something that really stuck with me." Even years before his world-class education in the juke joints of Mississippi and gospel choirs of Chicago, it was Merle that first set this soulman on a path to becoming the lauded creator, interpreter and curator of American music he is today.

In this At Home Live@EXT session, Reed chats with Dave Michaels about the album. We are also treated to performances of "Mama Tried," "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive," and "Started Loving You Again" featuring Sabine McCalla.