"Full Circle," the third, and newest release from Shawn Pittman stands as his most rewarding work yet. Having Jim Gaines behind the controls certainly didn't hurt, nor did assistance from veterans like Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, the brothers Moeller (Jon and Jason), Preston Hubbard, or the handful more. Pittman is a strong guitarist, and what he lacks in polish is made up for in the determination and intensity departments. While still young, he takes an authoritative stance which shows well on the eleven tracks heard here.
The doors open with "New King In Town," an original and gritty Texas shuffle that recalls "Riding In The Moonlight." Potent guitar playing is to the fore as Pittman rips clusters of grease from his Stratocaster and while not the most relaxed singer, his voice is maturing well. Juke Boy Bonner's gem, "Runnin' Shoes" gets strong treatment, and the Bobby Bland diamond, "I Smell Trouble," a slow-burn, seven minute rendition, is packed with some serious Lone Star blues guitar. Pittman's use of dynamics is also maturing, though given time, he'll become even better at building lengthy solos, while his variance in tone is balanced well. "Distress Signal" rocks off a Chuck Berry feel and "It's Your Turn" gets funked-up, as both show excellent songwriting skills. The sleeper is "One Of These Days," a brutal shuffle with Pittman playing some of the nastiest sounding guitar work this side of the Rio Grande as Shannon and Layton drill the proceedings along. "Can't Take That Away," another solid original, touches on Southern Soul, but rolls on a little too long. Bob Dylan's "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" shows that Shawn is also a capable piano player but things get a little confusing as to who's where. Liner notes credit Johnny Moeller on the previous track, and Pittman's lead guitar work is present on all but Dylan's classic, but credit isn't given for the powerful guitar here, although I'd opt for Moeller, as it bears similarity to his excellence that was shown on "Johnny's Blues Aggregation" CD a short time ago. "One Thing On My Mind" takes a slow Muddy Waters groove with effects guitar well out front, and "Hell Or High Water" seems based on Slim Harpo's "I'm A King Bee" riff. "Movin' " closes out the disc with power on a rippling instrumental as the Moeller boys converge for a slamfest backing Shawn, and the absence of bass helps to deliver the goods with face-to-the-pavement roughness.
All in all, Shawn Pittman's "Full Circle" is tight, rhythmic, sensible, gritty, and filled with varying strengths. After penning eight of the cuts, he's proving that his writing skills are growing just as surely as he is, and his economic guitar work goes miles in the less-is-more school. If he continues to surround himself with some of Texas' best players, he should attempt shopping for a larger label next time around... he's certainly primed for that next step. But I have to wonder, if this is full-circle in the terms it seems to be, what's he going to title his next effort? Solid and original blues with hints of rock, soul, and funk. Info can be garnered at www.shawnpittman.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, email for publicity. Keep 'em coming Shawn...
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