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Billy Joe Shaver

The Real Deal – 2005 (Compadré)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Billy Joe Shaver

After a scary on-stage collapse at Texas's historic Gruene Hall in 2001 from a heart attack, Billy Joe Shaver has come roaring back as strong as ever in the past few years. His latest opens with "Live Forever," reprised from his fantastic 1993 recording, "Tramp on Your Street." This time, though, Big & Rich help out on background vocals. The guest appearances continue with Nanci Griffith lending her sweet voice to the pretty "Valentine" and Kimmie Rhodes helping out on "West Texas Waltz."

Shaver shines on his own as well. "Try and Try Again" is a song about never giving up, no matter how bleak the outlook may be. "Sweet Melody" is a pretty song in which Shaver expresses simple gratitude for music. The album ends with a rollicking version of "Feliz Navidad," performed with Flaco Jimenez.

Shaver does a good job singing this collection of largely midtempo songs with a mostly acoustic backing band. Prominent Dobro adds a nice touch to many of the songs, nicely complimenting the soft twang of Shaver's voice. This is yet another fine album from a great songwriter and singer.