Rick Shaffer’s third solo album, Idiot Flats, will excite fans of his 2011 garage/blues CD, Hidden Charms. His latest venture is built on a garage/blues framework, Mississippi Hill Country rhythms, a garage/blues framework mashed together in a 1960’s psychobilly/R&B sound. Idiot Flats’ lyrical and vocal tone takes on the packaged commercialized plague, asking the listener to live free in the moment, instead of in the past or the future.
The ten track rave-up comes straight on with reckless abandon. Among the highlights are, Unforgiven Man, and One More Heartache. Both are hard-hitting raw 1960’s R&B rockers, tapping into elements of, The Pretty Things, and early Stones. while delivering their own individual character and intensity.
Tracks like the title “Idiot Flats, “Around The Bend,” and “Remember,” take on a bluesy pulse beat, with more atmospheric tension, providing some haunting bottleneck, and wall of sound psychedelics for smokey late night listening. Lyrical context on these tracks ask the listener to defy conformity and convention, and to understand change is the one constant.
A reverb fast paced racket finds tracks, “Hard To Tell,” and “Getting Low,” moving from an R&B sound, to a more melodic ‘60’s beat music. There’s enough reverb fuzz-buzz attitude to fit nicely in a Link Wray/Early Stones/T-Model Ford mix. Shaffer’s unmistakable vocal style is cut from the same cloth as a Hasil Adkins, Phil May, or young Jagger. Combined with the guiding hand of the blues greats, it’s evident what moves Shaffer’s soul.
Another defining cut is, “Nameless Things,” with lots of attitude stoked vocals, hard-chugging rhythm, fuzz bass guitar, and bottleneck textures. Shaffer was inspired by the Bill Rose film, “The Loss Of Nameless Things,” a haunting story of tragedy, and the redemptive power of art.
“Got To Go," an off-shoot of Fred McDowell styling, is mixed with driving back beat, blistering slide blasting, in an over-amplified explosion of fuzz guitars. All countered by a piercing reverb guitar figure, to create a harrowing vocal, of one’s “ultimate mystery.”
The closing track, “Dangerous Dance," features a stripped-down steady rock ‘n roll boogie groove, and shakin percussion, surrounded by fuzz-bent psychedelia. All neatly wrapped in a bluesy narrative, “I’m ready to lay it on the line.”
“Idiot Flats” is not a hyped “flavor,” but a raw expressive voice within a driving noise, delivering the message . . . GET DOWN WITH IT!