Billy Joe Shaver started out on such an exceedingly high plane that many wondered if growth was possible, or if a fall from the high standards of his first album, 1973’s Old Five And Dimers Like Me, was inevitable. Shaver’s newest album, Long in the Tooth, displays the work of a craftsman who has destroyed old standards and whose work, against all odds, has only gotten better. At almost 75 years old, he is arguably putting out some of the best songs he’s ever written. And for someone who has written gems such as “Ride Me Down Easy” and “Georgia On A Fast Train,” that is a difficult task.
Shaver, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee who has written many gems both for himself and a plethora of diverse artists such as Johnny Cash and the Allman Brothers, fills Long in the Tooth with sparkling new masterpieces. Give the title track a good listen and chances are that phrase will take on new meaning for you; have you ever heard Willie Nelson in finer voice than on his duet with Shaver on “Hard To Be An Outlaw”?
From the opening track right down to the last notes of “Music City USA,” this is an album that rings with the truth, filled with songs that remain in your head long after the album has ended.
– Bob Gottlieb