Journal on a Shelf
A fingerstyle acoustic guitar player with a country blues bent, Atlanta-based Bill Sheffield switches gears from Delta to Piedmont stylings on this collection of originals and one notable cover (Tom Waits’ “Invitation to the Blues”). On the sprightly opener “Cherry Blossom Time” and the toe-tapping, ragtimey “New Tattoo,” he reveals a Blind Blake influence in his refined finger-picking, while his raucous slide guitar work on “Black Bottom” has him dipping into a Son House bag.
Sheffield sings in hardy fashion throughout, accompanied by country blues harp aces Simon Kenevan and Paul Linden, acoustic bassists Dave Saunders and Roger Gregory and percussionist Dan Sheffield. Electric-guitar slinger Sean Costello guests on two outstanding tracks, playing it subdued and slinky on “Trouble (When It Starts)” and “Comes Easy, Goes Easy.” For a change of pace, Sheffield kicks out the jams with tremolo-laden electric-slide guitar on the raunch ’n’ roll number “The Ballad of Brer Rabbit,” then turns to sensitive singer-songwriter mode on the introspective title track.