Chris Shiflett has made quite the shift from Foo Fighters to his solo albums. Mind you he hasn’t left rock behind, but as he shows his new album on Hard Lessons (produced by Dave Cobb), he is just as comfortable with twangy country songs.
“Liar’s Word” is a good way to kick off the album because it gives you a good taste of what is to come on the rest of the album. There is some spacey pedal steel courtesy of Paul Franklin in the background while the guitar solo in is a cross between Flying Burrito Brothers and arena rock.
Between Brian Allen’s bass line and the honky-tonk sound of the pedal steel, Shiflett brings a little similarity to Waylon and Whitey Morgan in “This Ol’ World.” There is also a fair amount of Waylon in the bass line, the pedal steel, and Chris Powell’s drums in “I Thought You’d Never Leave”. While a lot of country songs lament someone leaving, this one is a celebration of being rid of a certain someone. In addition to the twangy sounds, there is a guitar part that would fit just as well in a classic rock song.
Country music has a long history of great duets, and you’ll find one on this album. “The One You Go Home To” is a duet with Elizabeth Cook, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to it repeatedly. This is a song with the classic theme of cheating, but it puts a different spin on it. While the two narrators in this song might enjoy their time together, each one declares relief in not having to go home to a cheater. The melody will have you looking for a dance partner while the wit will make you smile.
One of the problems with the term alt-country is that it kind of takes the emphasis off the rock aspect of the music. You wouldn’t be wrong to call call this an alt-country album. There are a lot of country sounds and themes like cheating and heartache. However, there are also a lot of loud rock guitar parts. “Weak Heart” for example is a pure rock song. No matter what you call it, this is an album that will make you crank the volume and sing along. Hard Lessons will be available everywhere on June 14. Order your copy here, and read our interview with Chris, here: Interview: Chris Shiflett on Podcast, Hayes Carll, Foo Fighters and the Ghost of Hank Williams and an interview with Elizabeth Cook, here: Key to the Highway: Elizabeth Cook