Shannon Slaughter – The Sideman Steps Out
For nearly twenty years, Shannon Slaughter has played the guitar sideman role, moving from the Lost & Found to Larry Stephenson to Melonie Cannon to the Lonesome River Band and, currently, to Lou Reid and to his own County Clare band. This debut lets him do just what the title states.
There are 14 songs. Slaughter wrote two of them on his own. Of those, the one that should attract the most attention is his tribute to the resiliant spirit of “The Working Man.” That resiliance is encapsulated in the boast that he takes nothing from the “Federal hand” and is driven home by the strutting, medium-tempo beat. It is a song tailor-made for the current climate. Six others he co-wrote. All six are enjoyable if somewhat basic songs, though a couple are a cut above. “I’ve Hit Everything In My Life (But My Knees),” taken in 3/4 time, details the life of a musician who has sampled all of life, but is wrestling with returning to the moral teachings of his mother. That one he wrote with Dan Felts and Mark Byrd, and it has a memorable chorus incorporating a list of things he’s “hit,” ending emphatically on the title line hook. But does he make the return? Slaughter and Mark Brinkman also co-wrote “Hooverville,” a historical song worth noting for its subject (the Bonus Army and the sadness that befell its march to Washington, D.C.) and for its dignified and emotional handling of the same.
The remaining songs are covers, the two best being Waylon Jennings’ “Julie” and the country, “When The Grass Grows Over Me.” Slaughter sings them all (except for two sung by his wife, Heather) in a smooth, even delivery that runs from tenor (“Wilson County Line”) to a low, Randy Travis-like moan (“When The Grass…”), but is mostly a mix of the two. He is well-supported by, among many, Shawn Lane, Rob Ickes, Ron Stewart, and banjoist Joe Cox. (Shannon Slaughter 2108 Brushy Mountain Rd., Wilkesboro, NC 28697, www.countyclareband.com.)BW