Though firmly anchored in Americana Chris Shiflett‘s third solo album, West Coast Town, translates beautifully to the Australian country scene. I most recently listened to the album as I churned through a road trip through Victoria and New South Wales and it made many of the 1400 kilometers melt away. There’s something about the wide open spaces of the Australian countryside that seems to echo the essence of the music’s origins, despite being on the other side of the planet.
Clearly a highly-skilled guitarist, most notably with the mighty Foo Fighters, there’s just so much more to like about Shiflett’s solo work. There’s no pretence in the vocals, and no painfully over-produced tunes. West Coast Town is, simply, a whole lot of fun to listen to, and even the most timid of us are encouraged to sing along out loud and air drum on the steering wheel with abandon.
I’m the first to admit that the country music aisle isn’t my first destination at the music store but this album brought me so much delight that I’m compelled to explore what I may have previously dismissed. It’s hard not to feel like you’re in the company of an old friend, trading stories – albeit accompanied by some very tasty guitar licks – and there’s a warmth and joy overall that reminds of long summer nights when cares were few and far between.
“Cherry” is my favourite track, upbeat and contemporary, but still honouring the vintage country vibe. The guitar on this track is fantastic, also, with a delicious intricacy that he makes seem effortless. That said, there’s not one track that I didn’t enjoy, which just makes this album more of a standout.
I can’t imagine it would be easy to step outside of the perception of being a Foo Fighter, much less to shine in a different genre, but Chris Shiflett manages to balance the two perfectly. He’s got an identity and style as a solo artist that holds its own, and it’s a great thing to get to experience another aspect to a great musician’s talent. If we don’t get to experience him as a solo artist on these shores then it will most definitely be our loss.
West Coast Town is out on April 14th through SideOneDummy Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia.
Review Score: 9.1 out of 10.