The Earth Rolls On

Shaver / Billy Joe Shaver

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The Earth Rolls On Review

by Jeff Burger

In the photos that accompany The Earth Rolls On, veteran country-rocker Billy Joe Shaver looks as if he's lived through some hard times, and indeed he has: His son Eddy, a key member of his band Shaver and the lead guitarist on this album, died suddenly on December 31, 2000. The year before, Bill Joe's lifelong love, Brenda, died after a lengthy illness. Shaver had divorced her twice over the years -- and married her three times. Experiences like these are reflected throughout this album, which is perhaps the most powerful of Shaver's career. "Hearts a Bustin'" is about Brenda, and so is the moving title cut ("The earth rolls on/Even though you're gone/The earth rolls on, and on, and on...); several of the other tracks, including "You're Too Much for Me" and "Star in My Heart," concern Shaver's reportedly rocky relationship with his son. But don't get the idea that everything here is somber: "Blood Is Thicker Than Water," also about Eddy, will bring a smile, and "Leavin' Amarillo" gets downright silly. Musically, this is fine stuff, thanks to Shaver's singing, Eddy's spirited guitar, and sterling backup from the likes of the E Street Band's Garry Tallent and Wilco's Jay Bennett and Ken Coomer.

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