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Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show

In Full Color – 2002 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show

Like the title, this bluegrass band's new album conjures up memories of a time when color television was new. Bandleader Karl Shiflett's love of all things vintage shows not just in the band's retro suits and single-microphone performance technique, but also in his lonesome, wavering voice and the music's almost honky-tonk sound.

Divided between traditional numbers, covers of well-aged country songs, and the group's own compositions, it is difficult to pinpoint which ones are which without a peek at the liner notes. The standards are easy enough, like "Misery Loves Company," written by Jerry Reed and a number one hit for Porter Wagoner, or the murder ballad, "Down In The Willow Garden."

But what of a song like, "The Day I Met An Angel," which finds Shiflett crooning like Jimmie Rodgers? Like most of the other originals on the album, it could be a few days old or a few generations. If the mark of a classic is timelessness, then this album qualifies.