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Rick Shea

Shaky Ground – 1999 (Wagon Wheel)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Rick Shea

There must be the slightest temptation for any singer/songwriter based in Southern California to trade on the monetarily lucrative but creatively thin foundation that supported the original country rock movement and its many illegitimate imitators. Outside of Dwight Yoakam and a scant handful of others, the release of real and honest country music spawned from West Coast artists has been nearly non-existent.

Rick Shea's sophomore album stands as one of the few examples of just such an occurrence. Shea, a frequent stage presence as touring guitarist with Dave Alvin's Guilty Men, has followed up his well-received debut, "The Buffalo Show," with a rare and fine example of authentic Southern California country music.

Shea wears his Merle Haggard/Wynn Stewart influence like a comfortable set of clothes rather than a trendy and gaudy tattoo, his whisky-smooth baritone delivering the vocal goods while his guitar passages reflect both his love of country's past and his respect for its future. Like the best of country music's practitioners, Shea tells a good story ("Against My Better Judgment," "Guns That Blaze Like Thunder") and while the telling isn't always perfect, it's always appropriate. (20001 West Alameda, Burbank, CA 91506)