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Virgil Shaw ( )

Still Falling
FutureFarmer ( )
Like a victim of natural selection, country music has adapted to its changing environment. I refuse to use the label "alt-country" to describe the music of Virgil Shaw as I find the term hideously reductive. There is nothing "alt" about this music.the themes throughout are both classic and classically treated. Still Falling is just as heart-wrenching, torturous and emotive as the best in old-school country music, but instead of keeping the twang front and center, Shaw and his band of amazing musicians successfully fuse traditional country song structures with lush, cinematic soundscapes and pop melodies. "The Drawing," with its soaring melody and countrified coloring opens the record on a high note and is followed by an equally stellar tune, "Golden Sun," a song that sounds as if it's being sung by a broken man on a bar piano. The majestic beauty of "Wilderness of the World" swells and thrums as its layers bury the listener while "Wet Splashes," the album's most immediate tune, contains the memorable line: "I'm sorry I left you there, sleeping naked in a beanbag chair." The lyrics are solid throughout. On "Clock On The Wall" the listener can hear the anguish in Shaw's voice as he sings: ".and the clock on the wall, it says it all.where the hell have you been?" Not unlike Hayden's brilliant Skyscraper National Park, Virgil Shaw's Still Falling will get into your bones. Every song is a gem in its own way. Brilliant, in the very real sense of the word. Highly recommended for fans of Neil Young, Hayden, and Will Oldham.

By Ryan Wugalter
Aug 31, 2003

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