Culberson County (Thirty Tigers)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., May 4, 2018
"Let's keep the lonely places lonely as long as we can," mourns Red Shahan on the title track to sophomore outing Culberson County. Shahan's voice rings an elegiac tone, simmering with the fading inevitability that lingers like the long West Texas horizon, but the Fort Worth-based troubadour isn't just clinging nostalgically to the past. Lead cut "Waterbill" shakes a scuzzy Southern guitar boogie echoed by the backside's full-cylinder drive of "Revolution." Shahan walks a line that can circle the Red Dirt country circuit but also potentially break its orbit, grinding bluesy backroads grit ("Enemy," "6 Feet") against easy-rolling crowd anthems ("Someone Someday," "Roses"), and poetic, clenched-jaw ballads ("Memphis," "Hurricane"), with a dash of soulful pleading to smooth the mix ("Idle Hands," "Try"). Stepping up from his notable 2015 debut, Red Shahan's geared up to take off – in any direction he wants to aim.