Since the last millennium, Shane Clouse has been rattling around the edges of country music's Big Stage. Through the Fire just might get him there.
It all starts with great songwriting and smart choices. Clouse has assembled a crew of writers and players who give each song just what it needs. Most of the arrangements are tight and proper, thanks to co-producers Ken Triphan and Mike Ward.
Clouse's "Troublesome" comes out of the chute snorting and bucking with a smoldering intensity like that bull with the blood red eyes that's just waiting for the right moment to toss your ass into the bleachers.
Ward's "Jonesin' Over You" compares love with addiction, with lines like "Getting over you is harder than 80 proof, and that's the sober truth." It's a little glossy, but the sentiment cuts through.
"Country Wild," with a riff from Webb Wilder's "Human Cannonball," is the album's one nod to modern pop country, with arena-rock guitars and lines like "We pass around the shine and crank up the Hank."
Clouse slips into his Waylon baritone on "Fire and Gasoline," an authentic country stomper with an irresistible beat and Ward's high-lonesome harmony. With Through the Fire, Clouse has found his sound.
Shane Clouse and Stompin' Ground Trio play the Rustic Hut in Florence Fri., Dec. 11, 8 PM–midnight. Free.