Throughout the course of his career, Nashville by-way-of California singer/songwriter Shane Dwight’s played the part of forlorn wandering bluesman, eccentric countrified roots rocker, and fastest-gun-in-the-West guitar slinger - all with equal aplomb. On this, his ninth record, he’s never sounded so comfortably creative within his self-defined Americana parameters. He’s creating music for that long journey down the dirt path that leads to inner discovery. It’s music found in the truths we stumble upon.
“This House” exudes a well-mixed sense of neo-country soul with a lived-in sound and vibe that can be best described as hauntingly analog. Tracks like “We Can Do This” are Parliament-esque in their throwback funk, complete with boisterous Bootsy Collins-inspired basslines and head-cocked attitude in the vocals. “Sing For Me (Search For Sierra)” is a lonesome, mournful piece of street-corner blues made more desolate with a carefully plodding walking bass and organ work teeming with urgency; like Tom Waits’ spin on the blues without the exaggerated lyrical element.
Dwight gets deeply personal and reflective with the gospel-inflected ballad “Fool,” with tasteful background vocals containing just a hint of Motown. There’s a reassurance in his vocal (“Gonna wipe away every tear that ever falls from your eye”) and soothing calm that he embraces in such material. Similarly deep is “It’s Gonna Be Beautiful,” with Janis Joplin-inspired vocals by Bekka Bramlett (daughter of Delaney and Bonnie), the song running through the overwhelmingly positive virtue of a true friendship and hanging through the tough times.
Dwight turns on a dime with dark-and-dirty Texas blues in “Stepping Stone,” the song hanging on the most Herculean of John Lee Hooker riffs twisted through a vintage amplifier cabinet in recent memory. Equally roughneck is “Bad For You,” dripping with dark-alley snarl and boastful machismo (“You know how bad I want you, and you know how good I love you”); Dwight’s bad-boy intensity is on full blast.
Smacking of down-home realism and sage songwriting perspective, “This House” is life in a nutshell, according to Shane Dwight.
- Mark Uricheck, Weekender Correspondent