A Country Soul
(East West Records)
A longtime singer and musician, Richie now mines his love of country and roots music on this new release. Doubtless encouraged by Bradley Walsh’s success with his recent lounge club records, Shane has the depth of knowledge to give this a crack. His fans will snap this up but in a crowded market, how will he fare with this collection? One or two of the titles raise an eyebrow, many of the numbers are new to this listener’s ears…. So let’s press Play
Opening choice Heartache On The Dancefloor throws a chugging beat, handclaps, winsome steel guitar, booming drums and a catchy chorus as you’ll find. Richie half sings and in a Transatlantic timbre which suits the style but as always raises the question Why ? You can sing a Country lyric in your own voice. This leaning plagues the blues-rock scene as well..if you’re not from Memphis why imitate the accent?
I Loved Her First has some lyrical bite and a very listenable swaying tempo. The mournful fiddle fits well. Dance rhymes with pants, so this American twang is here to stay. One can imagine this being a popular stage performance favourite and Richie puts it over well; Wave On Wave has a trippy delay-on-the guitar sound and Shane adds some grit to his vocal, suiting the song which has a Keith Urban feel, steady bass drum and all.
Shut Up uses vocal trickery on a Kid Rock style number, piano well used and is that a hint of small cowbell. Another likely setlist hit. I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me gets the Western Swing treatment with clean banjo in the mix. It kinda works and is at least a stab at originality. What Hurts The Most starts off sad and stays there. An English accent would not have spoilt the song in any way. Wagon Wheel is a barroom stomper with saloon chatter and a backbeat that gets the toes tapping.
Heartache Tonight has a percussive acoustic setting with slide guitar figures slipping through the mix. One to get the crowd singing along. That Bottle Ain’t Your Friend sets piano against warm Hammond and to my mind is the best inclusion on the set. Richie eases off on the Yank voice slightly and just sings it. Love The One You’re With reminds me of my meeting with the mighty Steve Stills and David Crosby has said has he is still in awe of the composition. I am most familiar with the Isley Bros version. Richie sings well and hits the chorus in glorious tune. Not an original arrangement in any way but very listenable, here.
On And On is a lovely song and a sitter for the steel. The delivery is cool and not for the first time on this record you get the impression that Shane wishes he had been born Huey Lewis! A version of Stuck With You would have fitted easily into this collection. Drift Away is a Southern Soul classic of course, from Dobie Gray. It’s a straight rendition here and avoids a karaoke sound as Richie obviously loves the lyric and gives it some. We end with 22 Gardens set to a doowop beat and a personal lyric. Wouldn’t have been out of place in Grease…
A Country set from a popular entertainer sounding at total ease and in the company of fine if slightly anonymous ensemble. If you can take the American vocal affectation do dive in and repeated plays are pretty much guaranteed.
You can listen to ‘Wave On Wave’ in this article.
Shane Richie’s new album ‘A Country Soul’ is out now on East West Records.