Whiskey Myers - 'Early Morning Shakes'

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Whiskey Myers - 'Early Morning Shakes'

A worthy addition to any Southern fan's collection.

Ever wondered what Led Zeppelin would sound like if they did a Southern Rock album? Probably not... but if you did, you'd find the answer on 'Early Morning Shakes'. It's the Texan quintet's third album, but the first to get an official U.K. release, courtesy of Spinefarm.

Sure, it has all the requirements of a Southern Rock album. If the name doesn't hint enough, one look at the picture on the cover (bushy beards and a Stetson) should be enough, but upon listening, the whiskey-soaked vocals, emotional guitar runs, lyrics abundant with Southern geographical references confirm the genre, while the (sadly un-named) female vocal harmonies are reminiscent of what The Honkettes bring to the Lynyrd Skynyrd party. But there's only so much you can do to push the boundaries of Southern Rock without it becoming something different entirely, so cleverly infusing their sound with some blatantly obvious Zeppelin influences sets Whiskey Myers apart from their Southern counterparts.

The rhythmic stomp and harmonica of the opening title-track is quite evocative as a track from 'Four Symbols' (but rhyming 'When The Levee Breaks' with 'Early Morning Shakes' in the song is lyrical genius), then follow up 'Hard Row To Hoe' brazenly steals the riff from 'Heartbreaker'. The slide guitar riff and stuttering rhythm of 'Home', the Funky movements of 'Headstone' and 'Where The Sun Don't Shine' and the Blues/Funk hybrid of 'Wild Baby Shake Me' also have a cowboy boot firmly planted in Zeppelin's legacy. It's a combination that works perfectly within the parameters of the Southern genre.

However, it's not all Zeppelin-induced rifferama, 'Dogwood' and 'Shelter From The Rain' effortlessly blend Southern with Country in the style that Blackberry Smoke do so well, complete with the cover of David Allan Coe's 'Need A Little Time Off For Bad Behaviour', but in all honesty it's the slower numbers towards the end of the record that are the true standouts for me, 'Reckoning' is just about as perfect a rousing Southern ballad as you can get, 'Lightning' is slow, sprawling Blues, while the epic album closer 'Colloquy' is the album's nod to the masters Skynyrd; a serene acoustic/piano beginning with subtle strings that gradually builds, complete with beautiful harmony guitars at the core and gorgeous solo to take the song to its conclusion, with a stunningly passionate vocal from Cody Cannon.

Spinefarm could have snapped Whiskey Myers up in a bid to attempt to replicate Blackberry Smoke's recent successes, a wise choice indeed. Not only is it a worthy addition to any Southern fan's collection, it will also neatly fill a gap until that next BS album comes along...

Ant Heeks

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