Shawn James and the Shapeshifters
On The Shoulders of Giants
If this is the blues, I’m gonna run back to my room and hide underneath my old Led Zeppelin albums. Shawn James may start with the blues as his roots, but what you see on the outside is an ominous, glowering stack of hard rock that just one drunken weekend away from Swedish Death Metal. But his soul is not lost; in the post-apocalyptic music weighing studio the anger and pain of the blues dominates. “Lost” opens with a slow fiddle and banjo line, but eight bars in and we are are buried under a sonic attack that grinds a bass line out over the dead bodies of Indie Pop bands that only want to put an organic flower in your rifle barrel. This song even has a dog; sometimes James is one pickup truck away from a country ballad. “Wild Man” shifts gears several times, and features a strong vocal line with the lyric “She gives me all the loving she can.” That’s the blues – one minute shes all over you, and the next all you’re left with is a Visa bill and a rash.
All music evolves and evokes older bands and here I smell the ghosts of Roky Ericson, early Rolling Stones, and every long-haired guitar player that tore up your 1970’s speaker cones. James may start with roots rocks, but he piles it high with tinder and puts a leaf blower to the flames. Even the violin solo on “Just Because” scares me a bit. But if you look this album square in the eye, pound your chest and shake your armor, it can be your best friend.