NEVER STANDING STILL
Elite Circuit Records
If you’re in the market for a bluegrass album that flows with a gentle ease and smooth vocals, look no further than the latest from Shannon Slaughter. While there are a couple tracks that fall outside that “gentle and smooth” description (a fairly torrid cover of Merle Haggard’s “Movin’ On” and a bluesy duet with Shannon’s wife Heather on “Better Move It On Home”), it’s a style that suits Slaughter well and results in arguably his best album to date.
At the root of this album’s success is Slaughter’s voice—a mellow, warm, and gentle baritone with overtones of classic country and soft bends and twists at the end of a phrase. Listen to his original “Find Your Own Highway” or his covers of “Old Kentucky Home” and the minor classic from Jake Landers, “The Girl I Love.” Better still, listen to his original “Trying To Be My Own Man,” nearly four and a half minutes of late-night honky-tonk, pedal steel, and piano-backed country. In all those cases, his vocals sweep past and pull you in.
The other strong root here is Slaughter’s ability to write and select songs that work to his advantage as a singer. Of course, he’d be foolish to write songs that wouldn’t favor his talent, but knowing that and achieving it are two different things. Slaughter achieves it, and with help from Ronnie Bowman, Tim Stafford, Rusty Hendrix, Dale Felts, and Terry Foust, among others. And then he tops it off by selecting such great songs as “I Was A Farmer” from the Bailey Brothers and “The Girl I Love.” Interestingly, the absolute standout track here is the edgy duet with Heather on “Better Move It On Home.” Odd how that works. (www.shannonslaughter.com)BW
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