Okra Candy (Mustard Lid Records)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., May 22, 2015
Okra Candy arrives as Shinyribs' third LP, but it's the first since Austin root supergroup the Gourds went on hiatus in 2013. Their co-frontman Kevin Russell now focuses full time on Shinyribs, and that devotion here translates into energy, adventurousness. His madcap personality still brews potent lyrical wit driven by a lean Southern rollick. From the outset with hypnotic, finger-picked jam "Pack-It-Rite," Russell's tongue-in-cheek drawl and core musical seriousness balances in fluctuating play, rippling with both deep-rooted nostalgia and a restless pull toward joyful mayhem. "My garden will grow out of the flames," declares the singer in the horns-and-keys blast of "The Sacred & the Profane," calling up a Delta groove that continues through the funky drive of "Baby What's Wrong" and lowdown soul of "Red Quasar." A stylistic romp across the slower roll of "Dead Batteries" and Doug Sahm-like send-up "Donut Taco Palace" exude a vivid provincial stamp in sound and subject, while "Upsetter" kicks almost ska to the loping beat and howl of "Walt Disney." Closers "Feels Like Rain" and "The Longer It Lingers" tension between sentimental balladry and ripped rock as Russell strikes his most emotionally direct hits. Throughout, Austin's jester revels in a newly charged creative freedom and unleashed enthusiasm.