Thursday, 7 January 2016

Shawn James & The Shapeshifters - The Gospel According to Shawn James & The Shapeshifters, album review


Essentially raucous, there is certainly blues, but there is also some heavy bluegrass as with third Lost that begins with violin and banjo somewhere in the background, but when the bass thunders in with drums, and James’ vocal growl, the tendency to what is described on Shawn James’ Facebook page as rock and roar is evident. 

As I listen I am often thinking of Seasick Steve with even more amplification, though here those ‘country’ additions broaden the genre, and then there are the anomalies like halfway through second stormer Like Father Like Son there is a female vocal repeating as lyric the title [for a moment a psyche sound] until her singing moves to a vocal soar with the beating of bass, drums and guitar. The banjo is solo-plucked and then sucked within the general roar, and then gospel-heavy handclaps, on fourth Wild Man. Fifth Strange Days has James growling a la Veeder, and it is a fine approximation, and a strong thundering song. Sixth Lake of Fire is a beautiful one, guitar-ballad chord strokes, loud, and the violin involved once more. By eighth Back Down the pattern is established, and James’ vocal is without doubt the driving force, here having some of early Cocker’s tone and power ably reflected, and, I kid you not, in ninth Lilth I can hear within that grit a timbre of Rufus Wainwright. Yes, I heard and said that. Surely, Shawn James [with superb band members here: Baker - Tenor Banjo, Chris Overcash - Violin, Jeff Bodine - Bass, Zach Coger - Drums ] is one to watch. 

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