Electric Shaver

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The title says it all. After several years of acoustic-based country, Billy Joe Shaver and his son Eddy have decided to up the ampage and deliver Electric Shaver. Theoretically, this is a good concept, but too much of the record sounds forced, as if blues-rock licks were grafted onto outlaw honky tonk backing tracks. Such grandstanding tends to obscure the songs, but then again, the rocking tracks on Electric Shaver aren't particularly strong, either. The opening pair of "Thunderbird" and "Try and Try Again" are cliché-ridden and awkward, two things Shaver has never been. However, things start looking up around the charming shuffle "New York City." From that point on (with an exception or two), things are laid-back and natural. The songs resonate and the performances are organic, not forced. As the Cajun-flavored "Manual Labor," the honky tonk ballad "I'll Be Here," the swinging "Way Down Texas Way," and Eddy's sweet midtempo country-pop tune "Heart to Heart" indicate, the Shavers are at their best when they let things flow, since the results are unself-consciously eclectic and quite charming.

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