Missoula singer/guitarist Shane Clouse has album number five out, Through the Fire, and it’s seasoned with country-rock spice. Clouse’s musical love is “Waylon-style outlaw country,” and it shines through. Scads of performers on guitars and drums assist him, along with fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and pedal steel. Some are from StompinGround, the revolving stable of players that performs live with him.
Clouse, who by day runs his family’s nursery business, sings lead on his own songs as well as those co-written by others, most notably Mike Ward, a friend he met in Nashville. Clouse covers a well-known gem, too: “Willin’” by Lowell George.
Crisp, punchy drums impart a country-rock sensibility to “Troublesome,” as Clouse growls the words. The gentle and bluegrassy “You’ll Never Find Me” finds our hero leaving his lover for the freedom of the open road. It canters along, peppered with lots of banjo and mandolin and pedal steel; it could be a hit.
In “Jonesin’,” a sweet and sad ballad, Clouse regrets the loss of a lover, having chosen drink over a good woman. His smooth baritone slides over notes and bends them around the lyrics.
In “Country Wild,” there’s a party goin’ on over the county line where the liquor flows. “Preppies, hippies and hillbillies” rub elbows behind effects-laden guitars and a rockin’ blues tempo.
“Fire and Gasoline” is sure to crowd the dance floor, with its story about a careening love affair; Clouse channels his inner Waylon to perfection on this one. And he sings a pretty melody on “Kelly’s Song,” written for his wife.
Clouse has opened for the likes of Dierks Bentley, Phil Vassar, Huey Lewis and Sawyer Brown, to name a few, and often performs for non-profit causes. If he’s in your neighborhood, see him live and get the full impact. Visit www.shaneclouse.com.
– Mariss McTucker