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Shaver

The Earth Rolls On – 2001 (New West)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Shaver

Under happier circumstances, this would simply be a typical release from the Shavers. It certainly has all the ingredients of a successful Shaver album: a strong batch of Billy Joe's songs - by turns heartfelt, confessional, reproving, hilarious, idiosyncratic and always with a story to tell; his singing, seemingly even more weathered than ever; and Eddy's playing, his electric now slashing and burning, now wailing and sliding, now riding low and undergirding.

And it is a thoroughly fine work in its own right, right from the hooky declaration of the lead-off track, "Love Is So Sweet," through to the weary acceptance the elder Shaver captures in the chorus of the closer -"The earth rolls on/Even though you're gone/The earth rolls on."

This album will inevitably be marked by Eddy Shaver's untimely death in the early hours of New Year's Eve 2000, however, and again and again - on the title track, on songs explicitly written about Eddy ("You are the star in my heart," declares his father) - it seems to memorialize the man, his relationship with his father, and his father's loss. And when you listen to life writ large in song on the album's centerpiece "Blood Is Thicker Than Water," as father and son take their best shots at and end up standing next to each other and Eddy sings "I need a friend/I'm your son and you're always gonna be my father," you can feel the heartbreak.