Remember when bands used actual instruments in order to create their art? With apologies to Girl Talk and other laptop-toting blog darlings that have ensconced themselves into the Urban Outfitted army of hipster clones, there is still much to be said for the time-capsule treasure that is Dallas' current sultans of swing, Shoot Low Sheriff.
Sadly, Western swing is practically extinct in every other state outside of Texas, and even here, the sound that made Bob Wills the king has become little more than a weathered signpost of an era that has seen its heyday come and go. Rising from the ashes of Cowboys & Indians and The Texas Gypsies, Shoot Low Sheriff recently released The Mockingbird Sessions, an unapologetically retro barrel of white lightning that manages to go down smooth—perhaps a tad too smooth, actually. Sure, the toe-tappers are indeed smile-inducing, but the clean finish of the songs lacks the rough edges and dusty stomps that were surely a staple in the barn dances of 1930s Texas.
This collection of original tunes, as well as some classic covers from the world of not only Western swing but also the canon of jazz, is joyously and expertly interpreted. The trick, though, for an album where the highlights are faithful versions of Bob Wills and Cab Calloway tunes, is for it to be a hootin', hollerin' trip down a dusty memory lane. And, to that end, this record succeeds triumphantly.