Pulitzer Prize-winning songwriter David Hanners mines a lot of territory for the 12 songs on his new release, The Traveler's Burden, but at their core, the songs share a common thread: The people in them are survivors. "Some of the people in these songs make the right choices and wind up OK, but some make the right choices and things turn out badly. Others just start out doing the wrong thing. I've known all of these people," David said. There are a variety of stories on The Traveler's Burden. There are the tormented protagonists of the title track and "When My Demons and I Come Home." "The Price Was Too Much to Pay" is a haunting murder ballad that sounds like it could've been written a century ago. Yet there is the modern outlaw's lament of "Westfield Blues," the story of an unemployed factory worker who runs a meth lab on the Illinois prairie. David never strays too far from his rural roots - witness the tale of his hometown in "13-Year Cicadas" - but he also ventures into urban territory for "The Ballad of Mohamed Saleh," the true story of a Somali immigrant who fled the anarchy of his homeland only to die from senseless violence in the city streets of his new home in Minnesota. The songs aren't all gloom-and-doom, though. "The Red-winged Blackbird's Tale" is an upbeat reminder that true love can be found. The Traveler's Burden was produced and engineered by Richard Lee, who also plays violin on several tracks. David played guitar and mandolin. Lonnie Knight and Bob Nordquist - great songwriters in their own right - lent their talents on guitar and harmonica, respectively. The record also features Jon Olson on bass, Daniel Zamzow on cello, Tod O'Donoghue on fiddlesticks and Nemo on oud. Amy Brockman added some great harmonies.