Shelley King

Building a Fire (Lemonade Records)

Texas Platters

Shelley King

Building a Fire (Lemonade Records)

"Back in the woods, down in Tennessee." Those words serve as introduction to the opening title track, but based on Shelley King's seventh LP, it's hard to believe the local songstress has been anywhere out of state lines lately. Tracing Texas from its swampy eastern border to the cowboy country balladry found in any dance hall with a well-worn pool table, Building a Fire assembles an audio dictionary of Texan roots music. King's powerful, twanged alto takes care of the rest. The kickoff cut blends Louisiana zydeco with blues sensibility, the singer's no-holds-barred vocal mastery front and center. King takes on classic spiritual "I Know I've Been Changed," her delivery fueled by sexuality and filling in spaces usually reserved for a choir. Playing both upbeat blues ("The Things You Do") and slow, sultry dirges ("The Real Thing"), the album even veers slightly macabre on "When I Go Away," written by Larry Campbell, band director for former King conspirator Levon Helm. The lady of the house can wring tears for your beer, too, on "1940's Eyes" and "Talkin' Bout the Weather," slow folk country as dance-floor nostalgic as a waltz. With Building a Fire, Shelley King's set a buffet of Texas roots. Pick a dish, any dish. They're all house specialties.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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  

More Shelley King
Texas Platters
Shelley King
Kick Up Your Heels (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 13, 2019

Texas Platters
Shelley King
Welcome Home (Record Review)

Margaret Moser, Nov. 27, 2009

More Music Reviews
Review: Johanna Heilman, <i>When We Were Electric</i>
Review: Johanna Heilman, When We Were Electric
When We Were Electric (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, June 30, 2023

Review: Large Brush Collection & Creekbed Carter Hogan, <i>Split</i>
Review: Large Brush Collection & Creekbed Carter Hogan, Split
Tape of tender lullabies envisions a warm refuge for queer people

Wayne Lim, May 12, 2023

More by Abby Johnston
Croy and the Boys, Warpaint, a Metal Fest, and More Crucial Concerts
Croy and the Boys, Warpaint, a Metal Fest, and More Crucial Concerts
Recommended shows for the week

May 24, 2024

Austin’s Crucial Concerts for the Week
Austin’s Crucial Concerts for the Week
Jackie Venson, Grace Sorensen, Monte Warden, and many more

May 17, 2024


Shelley King

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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