Whatzup
Chris Shaffer
Chris Shaffer

by Jason Hoffman Chris Shaffer

With no warning the very first song, "Just Over You" kicks in with full band and Chris Shaffer's distinctive, raspy voice singing "Everything's weird and I don't know why." Although backed by a band of incredibly talented musicians, this ex-The Why Store frontman knows that the linchpin of this self-titled debut solo release is his unique voice. And he isn't afraid to utilize this gift to reach his audience.

Shaffer's songwriting skills have developed nicely over the years, but as he was the main songwriter for The Why Store, there is definitely an element of that band to be found here. The aforementioned "Just Over You" is a perfect radio song with hooks everywhere. The steady subdued beat of the verse will bring in the ladies while the frenzied, urgent, distorted guitar of the bridge has enough meat to catch the attention of the fellows.

"Don't Turn It Around On Me" is a modern rock song at its best with ratty, muscular guitars backing a memorable melody that, at times, is enhanced with delicious melodies. Melodic shades of The Guess Who are found in the cynically sweet "Selling My Love Back To You," a catchy, upbeat song sure to stick in your head for weeks. You can tell someone loves their wah-pedal on songs such as the funky "Roll Like Thunder," where the effect is used with such gleeful abandon that even the drummer surely has one hooked to his hi-hat. Local favorite

Kenny Taylor masterfully holds down a majority of the guitar playing on this album, and his country-rock background shows through with sliding guitar on the relaxed "Again" and the foot-moving country rock of "So Slow to Rise." "I Like To Sleep" has a cool, watery-sounding guitar solo that appeals to the ear like a soft bed, and tracks like "Save Me" and "My Cruel World" tread murky and intense waters with lots of burning tension brought to a boil by Shaffer's deep, throaty voice. The album ends with the stark "Heaven's Gate," a song comprised simply of a lone distorted guitar and two harmonized voices asking the compelling, eternal question: "If God grades on a curve / What do I deserve?"

With songwriting in top form, astounding production and excellent musicianship all around, adoring fans of Shaffer's dreamy voice and eyes will find much to enjoy with this release. Available at shows and at www.chrisshaffer.com.

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