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Rick Shea

Sawbones – 2000 (Wagon Wheel)

Reviewed by Eli Messinger

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CDs by Rick Shea

The Los Angeles-based Rick Shea is best known for his contributions to "A Town South of Bakersfield," his collaborations with Patty Booker and Heather Miles, and his membership in Dave Alvin's Guilty Men band. Like Alvin, Shea invokes the roots of country while seamlessly adding a whole passel of other influences.

This third release ranges from a sweet acoustic cover of Lefty Frizell's "Saginaw Michigan" to muscular, electric tunes that bring to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd's less anthemic moments and a host of electric blues greats. Throughout, Shea's picking covers a lot of ground. His mandolin provides tender old-tyme and bluegrass runs on "Walking to Jerusalem" and the instrumental "Mesquite," then ranges to British folk sounds on "Deep Within the Well." His guitars run the gamut from softly picked and rhythmically strummed acoustics to low, reverberating waves of electric notes and bluesy twang.

Shea's instrumental chops are matched by the suppleness of his singing and the mystery and romance of his lyrics. At turns he sings with the heartbreak of George Jones, the quirky introspection of Richard Buckner and the lament of a honky-tonk bluesman. Altogether, it's just the sort of fusion that the term "Americana" was created to describe. (Wagon Wheel)