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Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants

All Hat and No Cattle


Monday, August 12, 2013

All Hat and No Cattle, the second album from country group Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants, is a nostalgic reinterpretation of several dated Western tunes. Nine of the 10 songs are covers, from the likes of Merle Haggard’s “Skid Row,” Del Reeves’s “Good Time Charlies,” and Buck Owens’s “King of Fools.” Shiflett, who dabbles in the rabble-rousing, honky-tonk side of music when he’s not playing lead guitar for the Foo Fighters, is accompanied by longtime friends and Santa Barbarans Jeff Gross (bass) and Luke Tierney (guitar), as well as Marty Rifkin (pedal steel), Mitch Marine (drums), and Derek Silverman (keyboards). “A Woman Like You,” the penultimate track and the group’s sole original on the album, nicely showcases Silverman’s sliding keyboard and the ubiquity of textured guitar. The album’s closer — a cover of Waylon Jennings’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” — is one of the best All Hat has to offer, a complete renovation and amplified production of Jennings’s original, featuring brass accompaniment to match the slide-guitar styling. While the original arrangements typically evoke a particular brand of prairie loneliness, the gang supplements these covers with added instrumentation and Shiflett’s upbeat vocals, which tend to compromise the ramshackle despondency of the originals.

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