This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
If great songwriting really is born from great tragedy, Billy Joe Shaver better make some room in his trophy case.
Over the past four years, the roots veteran lost his wife and mother to cancer, lost his son to an overdose, and nearly lost his own life to an onstage heart attack. No wonder he’s more pensive and tender than usual on his 13th album Freedom’s Child. Easing up on his rowdy roadhouse country-rock, the gruffly twangy Shaver opens his diary and his heart on these 13 traditional cuts, telling stories about his childhood home town, his lost loves and, on the heart-tugging Day By Day, his recent tragedies. Shaver does kick up his heels now and then, like on the patriotic western swinger Good Ol’ U.S.A. and the honky-tonker That’s What She Said Last Night. Mostly, though, Freedom’s Child is the sound of a man turning tragedy into triumph.