It's a notable truism that sometimes it doesn't matter what you say so much as how. In the case of Shain, it's part of an easy-going confidence that amplifies the charm of his songs. The mood on this album is a tad more reflective and atmospheric than 2003's No Tag, No Tail Light. While still driven by his country-blues background, Shain gravitates toward a more supple sound, from the low drone of the electric piano underpinning the dreamy "Empty Vessels" to the smooth electric blues of "Ten Days," which recalls Clapton's "Forever Man," to the gentle acoustic guitar and piano folk of "Broken White Line," which will warm the hearts of Mason Jennings fans. It's an eclectic album when you add in the rockabilly track "Joe Turner Ridin' Down Main Street" and the barrelhouse rave-up "Buck-Up Baby." While demonstrating his guitar skills, though, those songs don't play to his strengths as much as the pretty, literate, finger-picked folk of "Poetry and Sin" and the country-blues tune "Scratch Card Sally," which closes the 10-song album with a bang.
Jon Shain Trio has their CD release party Saturday, April 9 at Six String Cafe.