Dan Hicks' multifaceted musicality and adroit lyrical aptitude surface on Selected Shorts (2004). Backed by his 21st century reformation of the Hot Licks -- including the powerhouse rhythm section of Jim Keltner (drums) and Tony Garnier (bass) -- Hicks blends his love of swing and continental jazz into a uniquely modern sensibility. He likewise remains remarkably prolific, penning 11 of the set's 14 cuts. The eclectic affair opens with a spry "Mama's Boy Blues" that barrels along, augmented by some piquant Hammond B-3 organ maneuvers from Mike Finnigan. "That's Where I'm At" is a hot-steppin' number that would have sounded right at home on the bandstand of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Returning Hot Lick "Symphony" Sid Page (violin), adorns the melody, while Van Dyke Parks (accordion) creates an ethereal gypsy-esque vibe surrounding Hicks' surreal poetry. The blues-fused original "Hey Bartender" chugs steadily, sporting a humorous call-and-response with the Lickettes. Hicks is joined by Willie Nelson on the ambling "One More Cowboy," a tune infused with same Southwestern flavor of Nelson's classic duets with Waylon Jennings. "Barstool Boogie" stands out not only for featuring a co-lead with Jimmy Buffet (vocals), but as a stellar example of Hicks' deliciously droll dialogue and trademark infectious groove. Another zenith is the remake of "C'mon-A-My-House," adopting a darker quality compared to Rosemary Clooney's 1951 version. The album concludes with "That Ain't Right" and the pairing of Hicks and Butthole Surfers' frontman Gibby Haynes -- whose contributions are derived from a collect phone call -- further exemplifies Hicks' artistic malleability. In this way he enters the ranks of Tom Waits and the aforementioned Van Dyke Parks in terms of relevance to a modern audience. Whether you're a longtime Dan Hicks enthusiast or a recent convert, Selected Shorts is a heartily recommended entry into his intangible, yet instantly recognizable canon.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer