Journal On A Shelf, Bill Sheffield’s eighth CD, evokes a fluid musical tapestry that creates a laid back mood. The songs sound as if he were playing his old Martin guitar over a whiskey jar on the rotted steps of some front porch.
Recorded in his Woodstock, Georgia, home studio, 11 of the 14 tracks were penned by Sheffield, who also included a guitar rendition of the Tom Wait’s song, “An Invitation To the Blues”. Many of these tunes defy categorization, but his music never strays too far from country blues.
Sheffield’s deft finger picking style resembles Mississippi John Hurt on the opening track, “Cherry Blossom Time”. Sheffield explains the album’s origins, “The first song I wrote was “Journal On A Shelf” and that was six or seven months ago. This is very new stuff except “Holy Mother” and “You’re Still On My Mind”. It’s hot off the press. I find it better that way as opposed to belaboring over it too long.”
“Trouble (When It Starts)” sounds like a Sunday morning dirge and Sheffield’s God-fearing reverence emerges in “Black Bottom”, when he sings: “I went down to the water/I got the spirit in the usual way/The preacher he did happen along/Said the boy just don’t know right from wrong/Said I need to confess all my sins/I said I wouldn’t know where to begin”.
Journal On A Shelf marks a fine starting point to discover the works of Bill Sheffield.
- James Calemine