Well, they could do what Ottawa’s Shane McNulty has done. They could do an honest days work, raise a family first, then record those experiences after they’ve achieved some wisdom from life itself. Shane’s new album, ‘Cold Beer & Barb Wire’, is a modern cowboy’s view of old-fashioned values and healthy outlook on life.

There’s no bar-brawls or gun-toting Ford F-150 hootenannies between the grooves. There is, however, a steady diet of hurtin’ songs like “Why Did You Go” and “Without You” balanced by McNulty’s true affection for his wife on tracks like “You Make It Right”, “Believin’” and “Lovin’ You”. These are for the purists and the traditionalists. Songs that allow He-Men to voice their appreciation for the fairer sex failing their lack of words. Throw the disc in the CD changer and let Shane serenade your Missus. She’ll understand.

That’s not to say this is a traditional country album. It just isn’t. There’s some great dobro and pedal steel playing courtesy of Dennis Cameron and John Steele respectively, but it’s tastefully intertwined with that modern country flavour we’ve grown to expect since the early 1990s. What it lacks is the plastic, paint-by-numbers feel of the slick Nashville production giants. It’s organic. McNulty sounds like he’s seriously enjoying himself on radio friendly tracks like “8 Seconds”, “Mexico” and the balls-to-the-wall “Take It On Down” while fronting a band of comfortable and complimentary players courtesy of Jeff Nystrom (bass) and Wayne Killius (drums) .

Nystrom also produced the CD and brings a non-Country sensibility to the proceedings from an usual place: heavy metal. Nystrom was once a member of Ottawa metal band FIST. He has since expanded his musical Rolodex and found a bigger palette to paint from – and he brings it to the fore on this album to get the best song writing and performances out of McNulty.

Even Good Ol’ Boy tunes like “This Farm” and “Nanna’s Song” are fresh and given a new spin where lesser productions would have fallen into cliché musical traps or even parody. McNulty and Nystrom bring out just the right amount of keyboards, and harmony backing vocals on each tune to accent the themes, but not overpower them. A lesson that could be learned by those fat cats in Nashville.

Admittedly, I really like this record. If all Country music were this melodic and accessible I’d be willing to switch teams (and any record that has my old Internet friend Andy Dore on it must be great!). Looking forward to hearing Shane McNulty’s next venture because he’s heading down a country road rarely travelled anymore.

- Jaimie Vernon, president of Bullseye Records of Canada


“I’ve had Shane in a number of times. Always a crowd pleaser. And all round nice guy!”

- Brad Gould, Owner Operator Finnigan’s Roadhouse

 

“I’ve seen Shane in concert and had him in for live acoustic performances. Love his sound.”

- Ken McCafferty, Owner, Red Neck Bistro