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On The Record: Billy Joe Shaver, Sunny Sweeney

Peter Blackstock
pblackstock@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 5, 2014

WATERLOO TWO-STEP

Waterloo Records hosts 5 p.m. free in-store performances on Tuesday and Wednesday for two prominent Texas country artists with new records out this week.

Tuesday: Billy Joe Shaver, “Long in the Tooth” (Lightning Rod/Thirty Tigers): The outlaw-country songwriting legend’s first record since his 2010 self-defense acquittal for shooting a man in the face outside a bar in Lorena in 2007 has been getting a lot of attention. Much of the early word has focused on the leadoff track “Hard to Be an Outlaw,” a duet with Willie Nelson, but perhaps more true to the Shaver archetype is “Checkers and Chess,” in which he declares, “Even when I win and beat the pants off of the best, I’m still playing checkers while they’re playing chess.” Also of note is a reworking of “I’m in Love” (from Shaver’s 1998 album “Victory”) into an uncharacteristic piano-and-strings ballad; the 74-year-old just might convince you that he’s 21 again with his romantic crooning of lines such as, “I am free to begin the beginning of forever, I’m in love.”

Wednesday: Sunny Sweeney, “Provoked” (Aunt Daddy/Thirty Tigers): Though she’s been spending a lot of time in Nashville these days, Longview-raised Sweeney still calls Austin home. After a shot at the big time on major label Republic Nashville with her 2011 album “Concrete,” which reached the top-10 of the country charts, she’s back in the indie ranks on this finely honed 13-song set. You might expect such numbers as the cheatin’-song leadoff track “You Don’t Know Your Husband” and the party-rocker “Bad Girl Phase,” but Sweeney shows significant growth on “Front Row Seats,” in which she addresses societal breakdowns head-on and wonders why “we all just sing along, while the world goes to hell in a feel-good song.” Props, too, for her cover of Austin songwriter Randy Weeks’ bluesy groover “Can’t Let Go”; Lucinda Williams may have tapped it first back in 1998, but Sweeney puts a freshly energetic spin on the tune.

Also out this week: Spoon, “They Want My Soul” (Loma Vista), playing Oct. 5 and Oct. 12 at ACL Fest (see our Sunday feature about the band at mystatesman.com; Christopher Denny, “If the Roses Don’t Kill Us” (Partisan), playing Sept. 9 at Lamberts; Thanks Light, “& the Hallucinations”; Manifest Electric, “Eat Your Heart Out”; Suspirians, self-titled (Super Secret).

COMING SOON

AUG. 11: Harvey “Tex” Thomas Young, “More Than We Was.”

AUG. 12: Curtis McMurtry, “Respectable Enemy” (Berkalin), release show Aug. 16 at Strange Brew.

AUG. 12: Letting Up Despite Great Faults, “Neon,” release show Aug. 16 at Holy Mountain.

AUG; 12: Taylor & the Wild Now, self-titled.

AUG. 12: Play By Numbers, “Somersault,” release show Aug. 8 at North Door.

AUG. 16: Leticia Rodriguez Garza, “Saguita Al Bate” EP, release show Aug. 16 at Sahara Lounge.

AUG. 19: Ruthie Foster, “Promise of a Brand New Day” (Blue Corn); in-store Aug. 15 at Waterloo Records, release show Sept. 5 at Paramount.

AUG. 19: Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson, “For Pops: A Tribute to Muddy Waters” (Severn).

AUG. 19: Israel Nash, “Rain Plans,” release show Aug. 20 at Lamberts.

AUG. 19: Golden Dawn Arkestra, self-titled EP, release show Aug. 23 at Mohawk.

AUG. 26: The Young, “Chrome Cactus” (Matador), in-store Aug. 25 at Waterloo Records.

AUG. 26: Tinnarose, self-titled (Nine Mile), release show Aug. 23 at Stubb’s.

AUG. 26: Globe Factory No. 23, “Original Sins for Copycats” (Fiesta Red).

SEPT. 2: Brian Pounds, “Strikes and Gutters” EP, release show 9-18 at Strange Brew.

SEPT. 9: Belle Sounds, “Black Stone” EP, release show Sept. 13 at Lamberts.

SEPT. 9: Nightowls, “Good As Gold B-Sides” EP, playing Oct. 11 at ACL Fest.

SEPT. 16: Ahren Behrens & the Midnight Stroll, self-titled EP (Megaforce).

SEPT. 16: Fauntleroys, “Below the Pink Pony” EP (Plowboy).

SEPT. 16: Band of Heathens, “Sunday Morning Record.”

SEPT. 16: Fauntleroys, “Below the Pink Pony” EP (Plowboy).

OCT. 7: Hal Ketchum, “I’m the Troubadour” (Music Road).

OCT. 7: Shakey Graves, “And the War Came” (Dulatone), playing Oct. 30 at Stubb’s.