Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants – “All Hat And No Cattle”

They don’t take great liberties with the songs, just enough to make it their own and prove their purpose behind this album: “in order to know where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you’ve been.” – Sarah Weitman

Sarah Weitman

8
out of 10

Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants
All Hat And No Cattle
July 30th, 2013
SideOneDummy

Since my last review I’ve been nostalgic for the music of my childhood: good old rocking country music. The kind that was shunned from the pop radio stations, sang by cowboy hat and Wrangler jean wearing guys and gals, building from the likes of Carl Perkins, Bob Willis, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Something with a little more twang in the vocals, lyrics that tell a story (interesting, albeit not complicated), and a band comprised of a piano, some drums, an electric guitar and maybe even a pedal steel guitar. Who knew that to find this all I had to do was look at the Foo Fighters? Well, at their lead guitarist Chris Shiflett.

While touring with the Foo Fighters, Shiflett came up with a plan to travel with his backing band playing covers of classic honky-tonk songs. His backing band, The Dead Peasants, are made up of two of Shiflett’s longtime friends Jeff Gross on bass and Luke Tierney on guitar, in addition to Mitch Marine on drums, Marty Rifkin on pedal steel, and Derek Silverman on keyboards. In the spring and summer of 2012 they took to the road. When they finished touring, still inspired by the response they received at their shows and hoping to capture the feeling, they went into the studio to record and came out with All Hat and No Cattle. They continued to play live shows, like at the Stagecoach Festival in California and SXSW in Texas, and hope to announce more soon.

Previously releasing a self-titled debut album in 2010, they have taken a new approach with All Hat and No Cattle released on July 30 through SideOneDummy Records. Made up of nine cover songs and one new song, it comes across that Shiflett and the Peasants cover songs not to brag or show off what they can do, but rather to pay homage to their inspiration. They don’t take great liberties with the songs, just enough to make it their own and prove their purpose behind this album: “in order to know where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you’ve been.”

The track list credits songs by greats Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings and Del Reeves, and lesser known (to me anyway) Don Rich and the Buckaroos, Jim Ed Brown, Faron Young and Wynn Stewart. The album starts of strong with the upbeat “Guitar Picking Man” and “Good Time Charlie’s”, two songs that are just waiting to be played to pick things up on a Saturday night. They’re followed by “Pop a Top” and the doo-wop-y “Happy Part of Town” that both have the slow canter to accompany a broken heart. The piano driven original and one of my favorites from the album, “A Woman Like You”, fits in with the other perfectly, and one who didn’t know better might think that it was a cover as well.  It has the same classic feel through both the music and the lyrics, just waiting to show up in a honky-tonk bar jukebox.

– August 27th, 2013 – Sarah Weitman