Review | Shakey Graves - And The War Came

Americana Showcase at SXSW

There’s a new sheriff in town folks and his name is Alejandro Rose-Garcia. The Texas troubadour, who creates his unique brand of foot-stomping rock n’ roll as Shakey Graves, released his sophomore album, And The War Came, this week and it is the release fans of his live show will undoubtedly enjoy while bringing new fans to the Shakey fold.

The release of his first LP in 2011 titled, Roll The Bones, rooted the Shakey sound deep into the hearts of music fans across the Lone Star State, while his relentless touring and self-promotion carved a new path on the well-worn Americana highway. The release of his EP, Donor Blues, in 2012 only further escalated the fervor for more grave shaking.

Rose-Garcia is a natural performer and his live show has become a not to be missed event. How does one take that energy put forth on stage day in and day out and bottle it up in a studio recording you ask? Well, one listen to And The War Came will provide the answer you need. There is a fuller, richer sound to be found in the 10 songs on the album and collaboration is the key to hand-clapping, hip-swinging success.

The first seven seconds are titled “This is the Beginning” which flows right into the album’s first track “Only Son,” a slowly escalating track that explores the end of a lonesome journey with powerful harmonies and that signature Shakey Graves guitar picking proficiency. The album’s single, “Dearly Departed,” is a full on, no nonsense barn-burner of a number about a love that has died and the ghost that is left behind. With stellar guest vocals by the always endearing Esme Patterson, the track soars through your soul and manages to uplift your spirits despite the dour outcome. The duo sing out “You and I both know that the house is haunted/You and I both know that the ghost is me,” with no restrain, as if realizing they are both at fault and celebrating the discovery. It’s simply fantastic!

Shakey Graves is not afraid to kick it up a few notches on And The War Came and the electrified track, “The Perfect Parts,” is a perfect example of the magnified sound found in his live show. With quick tempo changes, amps turned up to 11, and screamingly emotional lyrics it’s the type of number that is sure to singe the hairs in your ears and leave you wanting more.

The songs which find Patterson providing vocals exemplify ideal collaboration between two talented artists, and it is clear the two enjoyed working with one another. The track “Big Time Nashville Star” is filled with Johnny Cash style, locomotive-guitar playing and back n’ forth vocals reminiscent of the playful banter found in any great Cash/Carter song. The album’s closer is a lo-fi little ditty titled “Call It Heaven,” with Patterson and Rose-Garcia trading blows in the boxing ring of love. It’s a TKO in ten rounds!

Shakey Graves has been a one man music-machine for much of his career, and as his style progresses, and his audience grows, there is a sort of comfort that comes with partnership and knowing that you don’t always have to carry the weight yourself. And The War Came is the sound of a musician with a powerful instrumental army by his side.

You must see this album performed live for yourself and lucky for you Shakey is on tour! Do yourself the favor of catching him when he makes his way to your town. He will be here in Boston for a sold-out show at The Sinclair, which is one of the areas finest venues.

Tour info here.

Buy And The War Came

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