It probably took guts for the lead guitarist of one of the hardest rocking bands around, with a punk background to boot, to make a country album of all things. But Dave Grohl's shown his own penchant for the occasional country-flavored song with Foo Fighters. And their acoustic "Skin and Bones" concert had Shiflett adding some unexpected country twangs to familiar songs.
Toss in his work on country covers with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and maybe it's not such a surprise that he decided to go all-out with a retro country side band, rather than another album with his (equally under-appreciated and under-promoted) punk side band, Jackson United.
But thankfully, his knack for catchy songs translates well here, and he still avoids the modern "chorus early/chorus often" mantra of song structure. Greg Leisz shows that adding pedal steel guitar makes just about any song even better. As someone who's not a fan of country in particular, I may now be hooked.
It opens with a trio of bouncy, infectious tunes. "Get Along" and "Bandaged" go in a few different directions that keep you guessing and smiling. "God Damn" isn't immediately catchy, but has a great wistful, anthemic, evocative quality.
"Burning Lights" is a fun, countrified cover of an otherwise sparse Joe Strummer song. "An Atheists Prayer" is a laid-back, almost soulful, bluesy number. "Baby, Let It Out" is another upbeat song with a false ending that sets up a good ol' rollicking climax.
Like with Shiflett's Jackson United stuff, the only weakness is that his voice can be a bit rough around the edges in a couple spots, but they're made up for by great songwriting that could (and should) fit in on the next Foo album. So while that's still a few months away, I'm glad Shiflett was able to gather up these mellow gems to tide us over until then.