Album Review: Chris Shiflett – Hard Lessons (East Beach/Thirty Tigers)

Foo Fighters’ guitarist Chris Shiflett sets up shop in Nashville for a quick set of country-rockers, added and abetted by Nashville’s hottest producer, Dave Cobb.

Despite playing guitar in one of the biggest bands on the planet, and also serving to in another (Me First & The Gimme Gimmes), Chris Shiflett still has time to forge out a solo career.

He released his first album under his own name, West Coast Town, back in 2017, and now he returns with Hard Lessons.

The previous record, also produced by Dave Cobb, found Shiflett paying musical tribute to the Bakersfield sound, but this one is closer to a straight-ahead rock album.

Shiflett opens with Liar’s Word, the arena-friendly production sounding something like Queen, if they had attempted to make a country album. But then it immediately falls into a generic arena rocker with a hint of country twang. The “chorus”, such as it is, merely finds Shiflett repeating the song title, over and over.

Things aren’t much better on This Ol’ World. The guitar playing, with help from guest Laur “Little Joe” Joamets, is OK, but the bright studio sheen added to the track makes everything sound safe and familiar.

Welcome To Your First Heartache reminds me of second-tier 70’s southern rock band such as Point Blank and 38 Special…radio friendly, but completely forgettable.

There are a couple of tunes that I found passable.

Once you get over the Helter Skelter intro of the title track, it turns into a fairly decent tune and the guitar solo is pretty nifty.

That’s followed by The One You Have To Go Home To, an entertaining duet with Elizabeth Cook in which they take on the roles of two folks each cheating on their partners. The pedal steel gives it a good ol’ country flavour and it’s a well-written song.

But the remainder of the album falls back into generic arena rock territory, with songs like Weak Heart and Marfa On My Mind sounding like Lynyrd Skynyrd outtakes. And I swear, I Thought You’d Never Leave sounds exactly like an old Charlie Daniels Band number from 1974.

Only Leaving Again stands out, thanks to its appealing melody and looser feel.

One almost gets the feeling that Chris Shiflett himself doesn’t put much stock in these songs as most of them fall under the 3 minute mark. I guess that’s a plus…it’s over before you can get too bored with it.

But hey, Chris…don’t quit your day job.

Marty Duda

Compare this Chris Shiflett track to this old CDB tune: