Led by singer, songwriter, guitarist, and plaid-suited, nonstop ringmaster Kevin Russell, Austin’s Shinyribs commandeered the studio for their fourth go-round and concocted one big roiling boil of a melting pot. The result is the very appropriately titled “I Got Your Medicine.”
Cranking up this utterly infectious Gulf Coast pop-soul-country ‘n R&B with Russell are bassist Jeff Brown, drummer Keith Langford, keys player Winfield Cheek, the Tijuana Trainwreck horns, and singers the Shiny Soul Sisters. What a happy-sounding, exhilarating, and thus magnetic crew, especially as produced by, and with six-string contributions from, Mississippian, and erstwhile Squirrel Nut Zipper wizard, Jimbo Mathus.
Russell appears like a snake oil salesman in the photo on the front cover. But on the back, they all look like a Western outfit standing out in the Texas plains. One spin, and it’s obvious they stand out in any field they choose. Right off in the title song, pumping ‘Nawlins-by-way-of-Mexico brass and a smooth, sashaying beat sets in motion an unstoppable, wild ride. That opener derives from a real-life experience Russell had of helping a broken husband run errands for his stressed-out wife, and it slides into “Don’t Leave It A Lie,” which moves through all kinds of emotions but ends up the gospel truth. “Trouble, Trouble” bursts forth, a straight-up rockin’ rhythm and blues that speaks of problems, but solves them all with one hearing.
Tongue-in-cheek gets wrapped up in convention all over this record, often within a single song. Take “Tub Gut Swamp & Red-Eyed Soul,” with its jitterbugging melody, wonderful boogie piano solo, and lyrics about “Drinkin’ like a chimney, smokin’ like a fish.” Or, “I Don’t Give a Shit,” Russell’s honky-tonkin’ duet with Shiny Soul Sister Alice Spencer. Humor pops up often in Russell’s lyrics, but damn, this is deadly-serious music to dance the night away to, played by masters. And Russell? He’s an amazingly resonant soul singer, in evidence best on the old Toussaint McCall waltzing classic “Nothing Takes The Place Of You.” Sequenced for maximum pleasure, not one song can be skipped. I loved the Gourds, Russell’s previous band of 18 years. Shinyribs glow even brighter and bolder. And that’s saying something.
‘I Got Your Medicine’