Rick Shaffer’s latest album ‘Stacked Deck’ is in keeping with the now solo musician and vocalist’s previous offerings. Still true to the ideologies in ‘Necessary Illusion,’ ‘Hidden Charms’ and ‘Idiot Flats,’ Shaffer has continued to elevate the profile of the garage rock genre that has experienced a revival since the 90s. Whilst doing so, he remains unlike many artists you get nowadays attempting to infuse uncharacteristic elements in the hope that he reinvents the wheel. No, ‘Stacked Deck’ stays away from the too outlandish and the computerized to deliver an authentically 60s downbeat, ‘dirty dive’ record that somehow wouldn’t sound out of place in the modern pop charts. 

The album fuses together toothy, abrasive strings with the melodic simplicity of country blues pop. Saturated in two-step arrangements and lazy composition, ‘Stacked Deck’ is punchy, raunchy, seductive and melancholically bittersweet all at the same time. This amalgamation gives the album a new edge that makes it more relevant to today’s audience and shows how blues and country have progressed through the years rather contrary to the genres’ greatly exaggerated demises.

If you’re not a fan of percussive albums, then stay well away from this one. Sure Shaffer unleashes his venomous tone all over it, but ‘Stacked Deck’ clearly insights emotion best through its strains, strikes and shakes. Let’s be frank: what did you expect from a dedicated garage rock offering anyway?! 

This album will also stick in the craw of anyone who can’t appreciate something which includes psychobilly sensibilities; not in the lyrical sense, rather the texture of the songs. It’s frantically loud from the double basses through to Shaffer’s Jack White-esque vocals that wander irrepressibly as if toneless sometimes. It’s not that Shaffer can’t sing; there is plenty of method in the madness and it serves the overall tone and style of the album very well. 

• Music-News (UK)