EP REVIEW: Elvie Shane – ‘County Roads’

Our regular delve into the plethora of new country music releases never fails to emphasise the depth of talent that competes for a place at the top table. The time, effort and dedication that is conveyed in those 3 or 4 minutes of music can only be admired, but ultimately the reward for their effort is so often miniscule. The talent pool is endless, and a great voice will barely open doors. Ultimately, the deciding factor is the song.

A career is defined by the impact that a breakthrough song creates. Mitchell Tenpenny had it with ‘Drunk Me’. Brett Young hit the jackpot with ‘Sleep Without You’. The list is endless.

Elvie Shane’s ‘County Roads’ EP contains 6 tracks that he describes as his “retrospective look on how I got to where I am today”. It’s good. In fact, it’s very good, but it has a huge advantage to others that are equally as good. It has THE song. The song that is opening doors and enabling Shane to strum his guitar in venues that don’t pass around the tip jar. Doors to venues like the Grand Ole Opry, where he recently made his debut.

That song is ‘My Boy’, which is destined to be the anthem for stepdads everywhere. Cue the backstory.

He’s from Caneyville, Kentucky. It’s the proverbial small town 100 miles north of Nashville, where he is now based. He’s listed on Wiki as a ‘notable native’ and the town has a prominent horse and buggy community with strong Christian beliefs. Shane’s upbringing was influenced by the church and his working class blue collar family. His Dad drove trucks and his prowess under a bonnet of a car matched his guitar playing.

He admits to an early life that strayed away from the straight and narrow, and it was the meeting of his future wife Mandi that had the greatest redeeming influence upon him. She had a 5 year son from another relationship and it was the bond that Elvie Shane had with her child that forms the autobiographical backdrop to ‘My Boy’.

He states that his inspiration for the song came from a Facebook post that said “I don’t have a stepson, I have a son that was born before I met him”. The writing session with Russell Sutton, Lee Starr and Nick Columbia turned into four grown men hugging and crying on the front porch because they knew they had created something special.

The reaction to the song has been incredible. A sample of YouTube comments include –

“If you relate to this song then you’ve been through it and you know how much it means when they call you Dad. Best feeling in the world”

“This is literally next level lyric writing”

It was released in June 2020 and was sent to Country Radio in September. He is signed with Wheelhouse Records, a subsidiary of Broken Bow. Their roster includes Granger Smith, Locash and Runaway June, so have considerable country music pedigree in Nashville and their promotional efforts have resulted in a gradual breakthrough that now sees the single in the low twenties of the national country airplay charts. It is now beginning to take off, and it’s going to be huge.

His musical career began in 2012, and he competed on American Idol in 2016 where he auditioned before Keith Urban, who was one of the judges who gave him the golden ticket onto the show. However, he was eliminated in the first round and returned to Kentucky to write the songs that now form the basis of his debut EP.

6 tracks that show the southern rock and gospel influences of a proud redneck who drove the county roads in a Mustang. The opener ‘County Roads’ is a straight-up southern rock belter with the guitar grooves growling and the tales of lessons learnt the hard way through scrapes, infidelity and hurt.

‘Keep On Strummin’ maintains the energy and is the perfect showcase for the ‘red blooded boy from a blue collar town’ strumming his way to Nashville to chase his dream.

He was born into a community where the church had a huge influence, and the legacy is the subject of ‘Sundays In The South’, a massive highlight and one to tap your feet to. Southern Fried Gospel with a Telecaster, taking us back to the days when he would ride to church listening to 90’s Country, sing hymns and return home to his Dad’s Rock and Blues albums. His lyrics were forged from those early memories.

‘My Boy’ will be his key to the door, but the EP shows a side to his music that will surprise many. Elvie Shane is getting his opportunity to break into the mainstream; it seems that country radio is embracing his talent, and it will be fascinating to see just how far he can go.

Graham Wharton

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