Billy Joe Shaver - Electric Shaver
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Electric Shaver (New West, 1999)

Billy Joe Shaver

Reviewed by Dan Williams

Billy Joe Shaver is a songwriter's songwriter - the author of "Honky Tonk Heroes" sits astride a catalogue covered by Waylon and Willie, Elvis and Dylan.

This is a departure from Shaver's trademark hard honky-tonk by way of the West Texas waltz. As the title implies, there is plenty of amplification onboard.

It's nothing if not varied: a souped-up remake of 1980's "Thunderbird" kicks hard; fueled apace by the distorted blur of Eddy Shaver's Telecaster. "People And Their Problems" - a novelty song with a singalong chorus - rocks aplenty; complete with a seeming reference to Willie Nelson's daily pot intake. "Try And Try Again" bounces and weaves and slurs; enlivened by some of Billie Joe's most expressive singing on record. "You Wouldn't Know Love (If You Fell In It)" is a moody blues filled out nicely by the big sound of producer Ray Kennedy's B-3 organ. And, as always, there are a pair of graceful ballads: a gravelly blues called "Slave At The Feet Of The Queen," and the simple, direct declaration of "I'll Be Here."

Some of the rest seems filler-ish; pleasant enough, if lacking the sparkle of Shaver at the top of his game. This is not his strongest set of material - 1993's "Tramp On Your Street" and last year's country gospel "Victory" eclipse this - but it's still laden with dollops of charm, and a heart as big as the great outdoors.

CDs by Billy Joe Shaver

Long in the Tooth, 2014 Live at Billy Bob's Texas, 2012 Everybody's Brother, 2007 Greatest Hits, 2007 The Real Deal, 2005

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