A rebel wind blows through town as the outlaw kind come and go. When the dust settles, all that's left is the white trash.
Enter Shotgun Kitchen.
With the release of their new album White Trash Soul, they have earned a place behind the outlaw country gods who have come before them. Lyrically, they are transcendent and subtly self-deprecating with a dash of humor, like David Allen Coe. Yet they are easier to stomach than the likes of Hank Williams III, as definitive of white trash as Hank III can be.
The band can groove, they are clearly a tight knit crew. They have a driving bluesy/folk-rock/country vibe that just works. It's soul music, emanating from the trailer park between the city and the sticks- otherwise known as Tacoma, Washington.
Led by frontman Joe McInnis, Shotgun Kitchen is a motley crew who come together like family. Joe's lyrics are witty and often humorous, but not without poetic vision- even if his line of sight is spotted with trailer trash and smoke signals. His sense of melody makes even the most irreverent subjects worthy of song, backed by a band of folks who know how to play.
The album opens with a not so subtle identity statement, If Jesus Had A Gun. It is sacrilegious yet innocent it's societal observations. And kind of fun to sing along to.
Matriarch is a pretty song, a fast paced ballad sounding like the aural equivalent of a fragrant bouquet of flowers that are beautiful, but can’t cover up the stench of the crime they are to atone for.
The next track, Shotgun, written by and featuring backup vocalist Sophia Lute, comes then as an appropriate follow up- the rage of a woman who has finally had enough. Lute's passionate growl is reminiscent of a young Lucinda Williams. She can hold her own.
In the anti-climatic Love Is Hideous Romeo forgets to take his anti-psychotics, succumbing to violent revenge fantasies whilst expertly deflecting responsibility in order to avoid the consequences a direct threat might carry. Let's just say Juliet's fate is no better in this version of a tragic love story. Yet the soundtrack is simple and beautiful, creating an ironic cognitive dissonance between music and lyrics.
The momentum picks up again with Meth Lab, a grimy anthem driven with bluesy guitar riffs and the tongue-in-cheek chastisement of a woman cheating on her man with her love of a chemical substance.
"They say that bad girls don't go to heaven
that must be why you've been so mean
you're afraid that in heaven there's no methamphetamine
But someday you're going to get it babe, you can be sure of that
'Cause you've been bad baby
Bad baby, bad baby
Bad, bad, bad"
By the time we get to Hopeless Love it's clear that though the matriarch's flowers may be withering, the love is real.
Certified Dumb Fuck and Field Sobriety Test stand out like reluctant confessions during a withering jam session around a campfire. The fingerpicking is slow and country, with a nice melodic violin crying in harmony.
"She keeps trying to fix me
But I'm not broken
I'm just drinking what I'm drinking
And smoking what I'm smoking"
The admittance is cathartic, there is no hypocrisy here. Just flawed people trying to bring out the best in each other, and loving their way through the worst.
The only thing harder than the living is the loving- and maybe the partying. That’s what White Trash Soul is all about.
Shotgun Kitchen is:
- Joe McInnis - Guitar, Vocals,Dobro, Banjo, Harmonica, Mandolin
- Sofia Lute- Vocals, Guitar
- Erika Bellanger - Violin, Vocals, Guitar
- John Sommer - Percussion, Bass Guitar
- Ricky Gonzalez - Bass Guitar, Vocals
- Jessica Churchill-Vocals
- Jason Emmett-Washboard