Billy Joe Shaver

Texas Platters go mondo

Crazy From the Heat

Billy Joe Shaver

Long in the Tooth (Lightning Rod)

No coincidence that with Willie Nelson topping charts for the first time in decades, Billy Joe Shaver shows up with his first album of new material since 2007's Everybody's Brother. After all, Nelson's Band of Brothers stars two new Shaver cuts, "The Git Go" and "Hard to Be an Outlaw," both featured by Shaver on his Long in the Tooth, the latter song leading off the LP in duet with Nelson. Shaver harbors no shortage of contempt for the state of country music, and thus continues firing shots at it, but the triumph of Tooth is far more personal. Here's Shaver the irascible honky-tonk hero, older but no less ornery, turning from a decade's work that focused more inward and heavenward following the deaths of his mother, wife, and son. Like "Hard to Be an Outlaw," the title track still wrestles mortality, but with a snarl instead of sentimentality against the jagged, jaw-harped rhythm. "The Git Go" borders on fury in Shaver's raw drawl and yelp, while "Checkers and Chess" kicks at a rigged system, and "Last Call for Alcohol" sloshes across the dance floor with a cackle. Train tune "Sunbeam Special" and closer "Music City USA" both jangle as up-tempo thumpers to slower numbers like the touching waltz "I'll Love You as Much as I Can" and superb ballad "American Me." Finally, "I'm in Love" surprises with its swooning – if out of place – arrangement. Billy Joe Shaver, 74, came into this world rough around the edges, so his songwriting resonates with unmatched autobiographical intensity and Long in the Tooth follows suit. Contrary to the album title, he ain't headed for pasture anytime soon.

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Joe Shaver Gets His Wings
Billy Joe Shaver Gets His Wings
Country songwriting sage (1939-2020) reunites with beloved son Eddy

Kevin Curtin, Oct. 30, 2020

Playback: Long in the Tooth
Playback: Long in the Tooth
Songwriting 101 from Billy Joe Shaver

Kevin Curtin, Aug. 1, 2014

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Doug Freeman
Gift Guide: Mojo Nixon
Gift Guide: Mojo Nixon
The Mojo Manifesto (Manifesto Records)

Dec. 4, 2020

Gift Guide: Bobby Bare
Gift Guide: Bobby Bare
Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus (Bear Family)

Dec. 4, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Billy Joe Shaver

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle