Karl Shiflett is no newbie, and he has certainly found a niche for his music as well as carved out an image with his retro look, style, and CD design. His fans will not be disappointed on any of those counts with his new album Take Me Back.
Officially known as the Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show, the band released the album late in the summer, and it managed to crack the charts in just a few weeks. The compelling cover image of the band sitting around a cabin dressed in clothing reminiscent of the first half of the twentieth century is more than just a photograph. It is a tip towards what the listener can expect. The album features a couple of original tunes as well as cuts by Bob Wills, Woody Guthrie, Willie Nelson, Don Reno, and others.
Among the best on the album is a gospel tune penned by Shiflett, “Open Up Your Heart (And Let Jesus In),” which is sure to become a staple of the band’s live shows. Another nice original is Monroe Fields’ “Song On The Juke Box,” which speaks to what the album really is—a mix of bluegrass and a tip to “old country,” the type that Shiflett grew up listening in the 1960s. Banjo lovers will no doubt take Reno’s “Tennessee Cut-Up Breakdown” as a favorite, and the album’s last single, “Mama Don’t Allow,” is sure to bring a smile as it ushers out the 13-song compilation.
Shiflett is joined on the album by bandmates C.J. Lewandowski (mandolin, lead vocals on “Brand New Silent Partner”); Christopher Hill (banjo, lead vocals on “Just Come To Get My Baby”); Billy Hurt, Jr., (fiddle); Kris Shiflett (bass); Dany Bureau (scrub board); Preston Schmidt (fiddle on one cut); David Long (mandolin on one cut), and Jessie Baker (banjo on one cut). Those who enjoy music that crosses genres will enjoy the album, and Shiflett seems to delight in blending traditional instruments with Texas Swing and his well-known vocals. (Pinecastle Records, 2881 NC 108 Hwy. E., Columbus, NC 28722, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)MB