It’s clear that Shane is well-positioned to carve a niche as a popular contemporary country performer; he clearly possesses the energy and enthusiasm needed to do so. Suffice it to say, Backslider offers him the means to keep moving forward.
Elvie Shane’s small-town environs take center stage on Backslider, a tenacious debut that paints a vivid picture of life in rural America and the blue-collar attitudes that define so many of those that reside within those realms.
Shane says he set out to create an album that represented the folks he grew up with. Indeed, every track in this 15-song set reflects the verve and values of those that live a hardscrabble existence; one that often finds hope and happenstance seemingly at odds. Not surprisingly, each of these narratives are shared from Shane’s own personal perspective and yet, while he takes a first-person approach, it’s also obvious that he’s speaking for others as well.
Of course, it’s easy to find precedent in his approach, whether it’s in the anthemic overview of Mellencamp and Springsteen, or the drive and determination shared by John Fogerty and Steve Earle. Reared on R&B prior to his conversion to country, Shane manages to weave in both while evoking the emotions of everyday individuals who look to find their way in the world while making the most of what they’re given.
That said, Shane often comes across as a somewhat edgy individual, a no-nonsense kind of guy whose assertive stance reflects a rough-and-tumble lifestyle, one where no apologies are needed when dealing with the obstacles tossed in his way. He is, as described in the autobiographical narrative ‘Keep on Strumming’, “Just a red blood boy from a blue-collar town / hooked on the Muscle Shoals and Motown sound”.
On the other hand, Shane doesn’t always attempt to romanticize his situation. The R&B sans honky-tonk stomp of ‘Heartbreaks & Heartaches’ explores the downside of a celebratory Saturday night, while the dire deliberation of ‘My Kinda Trouble’ shares a decidedly defiant attitude that suggests he’s ready to rumble when a challenge comes calling.
So too, ‘Nothin’ Lasts Forever,’ a duet with Tenille Townes, shares the resignation and recognition that life offers no promises and therefore, all one can do is simply follow the proverbial path, wherever it may lead.
Fortunately, Shane shows that he can be as tender as he is tempestuous. The album’s first single, ‘My Boy,’ expresses his love for a stepson that may not be related by blood, but with whom he feels parental pride regardless. So too, the tender ballads ‘Sundress’ - an ode and homage to a hometown girl - and ‘Miles’ - a tattered tale about a perpetual road warrior - offer a reflective perspective that mixes sobriety with circumstance.
Truth be told, Shane’s obviously not breaking any new ground here. His gritty yet gregarious style is one that’s common to practically every artist that’s been nurtured in Nashville these days.
Still, given his dedication and devotion, it’s hard not to appreciate the effort he takes in sharing these stories, not to mention the care and compassion that clearly come through in every note and nuance.
Ultimately, it’s clear that Shane is well-positioned to carve a niche as a popular contemporary country performer; he clearly possesses the energy and enthusiasm needed to do so. Suffice it to say, Backslider offers him the means to keep moving forward.
Elvie Shane’s debut album, Backslider, is released Friday, October 29th via This Is Hit / Wheelhouse Records.
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