Single Spotlight- Chris Shiflett’s “This Ol’ World”
What is it with artists from outside the country genre making better and more authentic country music than artists within the genre itself? On Chris Shiflett’s 2017 album West Coast Town, he proved he could write a classic Bakersfield country song. And not just one. But a whole album’s worth. Shiflett returns with “This Ol’ World,” the first follow-up to the excellent West Coast Town.
Shiflett has said his next album will be a little more guitar-driven, but if “This Ol’ World” is any indication, the album will still be firmly planted in some breezy, Bakersfield-esque country music.
The song opens with some subtle steel guitar covered by a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitar before the drums kick in. In fact, the strength of the production is felt right from the start. The pacing really allows the song’s urgency to be felt without drowning the listener, and the several solos that come later in the song (both steel and lead guitar) are boot-stompers and really fit the identity Chris Shiflett has cultivated with his solo career. And indeed, Shiflett’s sound has become something worthy of a modern-day Buck Owens or Waylon Jennings. It’s the way the steel guitar and lead guitar play off each other. The two instruments aren’t competing; rather they’re complementing each other- something that characterizes the music of the aforementioned legends.
While the production is strong, the lyrics may even be stronger. I have spoken before about the artist Chris Shiflett has become. He doesn’t come from a country background. So while he can write country-themed lyrics, his strengths reside in crafting rock-oriented lyrics set to country production. “This Ol’ World” isn’t a complicated song lyrically. But what sets it apart is Shiflett’s ability to say so much without resorting to grandiosity.
Shiflett’s point in “This Ol’ World” is straight-forward. “Has this ol’ world lost its god-damn mind?” Shiflett asks. “I hope you’re doing alright,” he continues. It’s a protest song, in a way. But in a larger sense it’s a commentary about the world at large. Rather than resort to typical political clichés, Shiflett combines a rocker’s sense of the world with a country artist’s want to hold to tight to his loved one.
Rock on, Chris!