Purportedly, Billy Joe Shaver is to be included among the ranks of Hank Williams, Irving Berlin, and Stephen Foster as one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived. Hyperbole aside, Electric Shaver is a swift smack in the face to pea-brained, commercial country dreck. Shaver possesses an elegantly-backwoods drawl that perfectly complements his tall tales of drinking, fighting, women, and religion - all tried n' true lyrical touchstones in the wild world of country, but Shaver has the necessary elan to elevate them to something more than mere legitimacy. But Shaver's lyrics aren't the only element to recommend Electric Shaver : not only do ya' get hearty helpings of both Bakersfield and old-schooled redneck country, Shaver pitches delta blues and barroom rock n' roll onto his outlaw plate. Tasty, indeed -- even at his age, Shaver could beat down that chubby Garth Brooks bloke in a bar brawl any day.
New West Records, 435 N. Martel, Los Angeles, CA 90036; http://www.newwestrecords.com
--Nathan T. Birk