Since he first emerged as a songwriter more than 40 years ago, Billy Joe Shaver has remained an authentic country rebel, a far cry from contemporary Nashville’s bogus, self-proclaimed young “outlaws” who use the term as a marketing hook.
As a recording artist, Shaver found success in the ’90s with an outstanding series of rough-hewn albums. Turning 75 this year, he affirms that feisty independence on this collection of 10 new originals.
The sound this time is a bit more nuanced. Shaver waxes tender on “I’ll Love You As Much As I Can” and “I’m In Love.” But the fearless, wry humor that’s long been his trademark remains intact. He confronts advancing age on “Long In The Tooth.”
Willie Nelson joins him on “Hard To Be An Outlaw,” protesting changing musical times while “The Git Go” and “Checkers and Chess” offer broader social commentary.
He recalls earlier, idyllic rural times with “The Sunbeam Special” and evokes a long-ago Nashville on “Music City USA.”
Reliable session players Dan Dugmore and Jedd Hughes handle most of the guitar work, with Tony Joe White adding guitar and vocals to “Long In The Tooth.”
This article originally appeared in VG‘s October ’14 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.