I have to admit I was slightly worried when fellow RFC contributor John Brunner asked if I could review Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants’ self-titled debut album.
“It’s the guitarist for Foo Fighter’s solo project,” he said. “It’s kind of a country thing.”
Country music and I have never quite gotten along, and I thought I would be listening to something seriously twangy. My worst fears, however, were not realized (thank goodness). Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants is a rock album, with a touch of country influence.
The album has an overall lighter sound than Shiflett’s work with Foo Fighters and features some truly heartfelt songwriting. The yearning “An Atheist’s Prayer” is a standout among the album’s original tracks.
The album also features a cover of Joe Strummer’s “Burning Lights.” Strummer’s original version of the song is stripped down, with just a minimal guitar riff throughout. Shiflett & the Dead Peasants fill out the song with some fantastic pedal steel work, putting a slight country spin on the song. With covers, there’s often a fine line between sounding just like the original and deviating too much – this version is just right.
The guitar parts throughout the album is really what makes it. There’s variety between pedal steel, electric and acoustic sounds throughout the record and all are executed beautifully. The pedal steel really shines in “Burning Lights” and the closing track, “Death March,” bringing out the album’s country feel, but not overwhelmingly.
Unfortunately, RCA, Shiflett's label, has asked that no tracks from the album get posted but if you can always preview 30 seconds of the songs on iTunes.