Reviewed by Ian Morales.
Fans of alternative rock’s statesmen, Foo Fighters, already know the name Chris Shiflett. Serving as the lead guitarist for the rock icons, Shiflett and his new non-alternative sound may leave listeners surprised by what they hear on his solo debut, Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants. Fans who follow Shiflett or even punk rock already know Shiflett is more than fighter of foo. He showed us his punk side in Jackson United, No Use For a Name and opened for Lagwagon’s Joey Cape on Cape’s acoustic tour. Now Shiflett is shifting gears to yet another musical realm with this release, that of modern-rock Americana.
Upon first listen, the music sounds like there’s a punk-rock singer on an Americana record. “Helsinki” opens the album, giving listeners a good idea of what they can expect from the rest of the album, in terms of sound and vibe. All the twangy steel guitar, acoustic guitar riffage and well-written singer/songwriter lyrics about loss of love pretty much sums up everything.
“An Athiest’s Prayer” is one of the few more modern-rock-leaning tracks, leaving out the heavy steel guitar while adding a female background vocalist to compliment Shiflett. The memorable chorus stands out almost as much as the well-executed blues-guitar solos. The piano is a nice touch on “Baby Let It Out” before the blues-guitar-heavy breakdown takes over. “Burning Lights” serves as the most country-leaning track, but think more Waylon Jennings and less Kenny Chesney. That’s definitely a good thing.
All that being said, if you were to judge the album from a strictly Americana viewpoint, taking out the whole Foo Fighters association, you’d find it to be average at best. We should all just be happy Shiflett didn’t go with anything that sounds like popular radio country. It is, however, great to see this side of the heavy rocker that too often doesn’t get put out for the world to hear. As an added bonus, you can finally share a Shiflett-related record with your parents.
Chris Shiflett | Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants | Le Coq Napoleon / RCA | Release: July 13, 2010 | Rating: 5.5 of 10