Nashville native and drummer turned frontman Eric Shiveley has probably heard enough Michael Stipe comparisons to choke a horse -- or any animal from Chronic Town to Dead Letter Office, for that matter. But Shiveley's vocal resemblance to Athens's most notoriously tortured soul is worth noting -- as is his knack for penning stream-of-consciousness lyrics that avoid literal interpretation. (From "Clearwater": "I know what John Wayne means when he goes on forgetting/Leave me/Don't let it get all quiet/Leave me where trees line by it/Air marks where no one tired.") A fine tunesmith in his own right, Shiveley gets off to a rollicking start on his third full-length with "Diamondhead," a propulsive, steel-guitar-enhanced hoedown that livens up an album otherwise dedicated to mid-tempo melancholy. Playing every instrument himself save for a handful of muscular guitar solos (El Fiend's Dan Garcia and Kevin Yost from Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams join avant-dobroist Janet Feder for some fancy six-string shootouts), Shiveley contemplates isolation in wide-open spaces -- perhaps most compellingly during a brief cinematic interlude titled "Desde Alla." Refining its own dusty acre of well-trod, balladeer-style folk rock, Way adheres to a classic sound -- one as American as drinking canned beer in an Airstream. (See www.ericshiveley.com).
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