Album Review – Red Shahan’s “Loose Funky Texas Junky”

They may not know him from Adam out on Music Row in Nashville. But in West Texas and parts adjacent, Red Shahan is considered a cult hero, a cooler cat than most, and a songwriter’s songwriter. He even helps put on a festival called Caveman out in Colorado every Labor Day weekend, using his clout to entice big names to the stage.

But “Texas” isn’t exactly what you hear when you pull up Shahan’s new album Loose Funky Texas Junky, aside from it being the point of origin of Shahan, and the influence on a couple of the songs. What you do hear is a loose and funky soul-infused album indicative of the Muscle Shoals sound, which makes sense when you read the fine print of the cover and discover it was recorded at the historic FAME Studios on Avalon Avenue in Alabama.

Shahan was never a trad country kind of guy to begin with. He’s always been a songwriter first. But on this new album he leans heavily into a groove-laden approach to these songs, often trading steel guitar or lead guitar licks for a second organ/keyboard part, and allowing the ivories to handle most of the instrumental breaks. This intentional approach makes the album unique in the Texas music and independent country space, if not entirely novel in the greater roots world.

In fact, this shift toward more soul and R&B sounds is pretty common among the songwriter class in the “Americana” realm. Jaime Wyatt took this approach with her last album, Feel Good. Brent Cobb, Adam Hood, and Jason Eady have all gone in this funky direction with recent projects, even if it feels like Red Shahan takes it even further with the heavier reliance on keys.