GEORGE CLARK SHIFFLETT, III
Shifflett Family Entertainment
From the opener, Marty Robbins’ “El Paso City,” to the bluesy stomp of the closer, “Lovesick Blues,” singer/guitarist George Shifflett III offers up an enjoyable album of bluegrass and bluegrass-style covers of country tunes. Among the 13 tracks are such standards as “In The Garden,” “Last Train From Poor Valley,” “Highway Of Sorrow,” and “I’ll Be There (Ain’t No Chains).” Among those and a couple of other covers are a reminiscence of the trauma of visiting a family member in prison and later the hospital (“Dad’s Song”), an inspirational tune about taking stock of your life (“What Will They Say About Me?”), and an ode to the joys of home life (“When I’m At Home”). Shifflett wrote all three of those along with “Soldier’s Dream,” which honors two of his family members who fought in The Revolution and the Civil War. With the possible exception of “What Will They Say About Me?,” none of the four originals quite rise to the level of the standards here, but they are all good to very good songs.
The songs are all in the medium and slow tempo range, and Shifflett has a fine, very clear, direct, mid-range lead. Both of those points are important to the success of this recording. Usually an album needs a couple of barnburners to add contrast. But here Shifflett has focused his attention predominantly on story songs, a point he addresses in his liner notes. Tom T. and Dixie’s “Poverty Row,” for example, work best when you can hear and follow the story. Slower and medium tempos and clear delivery make that possible and, along with great song choices, make for an impressive and thoughtful recording. (Shifflett Family Entertainment, 2215 Ipswich Dr., Thompson’s Station, TN 37179, www.clarkshifflett.com.)BW