Review: Shawn Pittman – Edge Of The World
Posted on: Tuesday, Aug 16, 2011
“Edge Of The World”
(Delta Groove Music – DGPCD145)
Of all the young Texas blues guitarists and singers around, it’s probably fair to say Shawn Pittman has had a more rollercoaster career than most. The small town Oklahoma-born Pittman moved to Dallas at aged 17 where he came under the musical wing of the likes of Sam Myers, Hash Brown and Mike Morgan, eventually relocating to Austin in 2000.
He has a pretty extensive back catalogue for a relatively-young man, starting with four releases on the now defunct Cannonball Records, before taking a sojourn from music between 2005-2008, but came back with a bang and a plan to make one album a year, but a flurry of activity has seen five independently released recordings appear.
Ironically he has landed on one of the blues most prominent labels, Delta Groove Music, with one of his most ‘DIY’ efforts . . . a collection of songs recorded with him playing all instruments, bar saxophone . . . which he sent a few of to label boss Randy Chortkoff. He liked the raw sound he heard and the result is “Edge Of The World”, 12 original songs co-written with friends Lewis Dickson and Braken Hale, and just one cover.
Pittman is a great player and tough singer . . . his guitar work is definitely in the ‘less is more’ camp with no frills, here he lays down some gritty, down home grooves reminiscent of the classic blues of the 50s and 60s that came out of the likes of Texas and Louisiana, as well as his sparkling fretwork, he features on piano, bass and drums . . . with only the tenor and baritone saxophones of Jonathan Doyle for company on four tracks. On top of all this he has also co-produced the record with Jeff Scott Flensor and recorded and engineered it!
The one cover here kicks things off, a Texas shuffle of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sugar (Where’d You Get Your Sugar From)” and lays down a benchmark . . . incessant but simple guitar and tough vocal; the following “Leanin’ Load” has an early Fabulous Thunderbirds feel, with Pittman showing he is no slouch in the piano stakes, with Doyle’s honking baritone saxophone fleshing things out. “Scent Of Your Benjamins” draws on the classic r&b of the 50s, much in the style of the current solo work of the great Jimmie Vaughan.
The big stomping r&b tune “Almost Good” has shades of Little Richard about it, with more featured saxophone from Jonathan Doyle and some stabbing guitar. “One Of These Days” again rides on a killer groove, as low down as it gets, highlighting both his exemplary lead and rhythm guitar work. The title cut, “Edge Of The World” sees him channelling more classic Howlin’ Wolf flavours, on his own tune co-written with Braken Hale, with a sort of “Spoonful” hook, with some piercing guitar leads.
The pace changes for the lovely “That’s The Thing” . . . a song that could sit on one of my favourite releases, the late Doug Sahm’s “The Last Real Texas Blues Band” . . . where Pittman shines on vocals, guitar and piano. “I’ve Had Enough” sees him on slashing slide guitar in an Elmore James inspired belter, with a deliciously thick guitar tone.
Elsewhere, the stomping “This Time” has some tasteful Leslie guitar, whilst another influence, Lightning Hopkins, gets a ‘doff of the cap’ on the brooding “Somebody Gonna Lose, Somebody Gonna Win”, co-written with Lewis Dickson; with the simple and sparse acoustic “If I Could (Make The World Stop Turning)” ending proceedings, with Pittman here showing his abilities on the drums, which push this along, and some picked acoustic leads.
Considering this project started out with Shawn Pittman recording on a non-existent budget, what were virtually home demos, before being picked up by Delta Groove, resulting in “Edge Of The World”, he must be delighted about this labour of love . . . and for a raw and honest blues album that has grown on me over a period of time, there is plenty to enjoy here!