Album review: Bobby Lee – Shakedown in Slabtown

Source: album artwork

Words by Lady Godiva

Anyone who’s been to the desert in California knows what an experience it is in all regards: visually, sensorially and mentally. It is another universe on the edge of civilization that fuels your body and mind with its solar power and stupendous scenery. Any sunrise or sunset makes an hallucinogenic stunnorama.

For those who haven’t been, the sleeve to Shakedown in Slabtown gives a glimpse of that sun scorched atmospheric landscape. Psychedelic hues magnified by the immensity of the great outdoors, a timeless place where lonesome cowboy Bobby Lee will start his life-changing wanderings. The songwriter is originally from Sheffield in the United Kingdom, a far cry from his cacti central adventures but he is also a touring member of the LA band GospelBeacH, therefore is very well acquainted with the desert and its many secrets.

The record follows Bobby’s cinematic whereabouts from the inception of his initiatory ritual journey until its climax, its dreamy ambiance might not fail to remind film buffs of Ry Cooder‘s legendary Paris, Texas score.

His shakedown inside the Sonoran desert, if the album title truly refers to The Slabs, starts off peacefully despite an emblematic song title that epitomizes nature’s traps with ‘Sacred Swimming Hole’ but increases tenfold with ‘Listings’, a truly mood altering tune that feels like a drug kicking in, getting the listener high on kaleidoscope visions. Picture yourself riding the desert aimlessly, revelling in total freedom, far from the crowd, finding your true self in the “middle of nowhere”. Hunter S. Thompson springs to mind here: “have fun, get wild, drink whisky and drive fast with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.”

Along these seven tracks, the story unfolds with twists and turns and high and lows which may at times evoke Psychic Ills, especially One Track Mind. Delectable and intoxicating cosmic desert hymns. Bobby Lee also encounters danger and doubt, his path is not so quixotic and is at times strewn with pitfalls that he manages to overcome. There in the darkness, he finds light.

The record finally culminates in the sprawling, celebratory and ecstatically mind expanding rendition of Warren Zevon‘s 1976 ‘Join Me In LA’, a revisited and deconstructed soundscape entitled ‘Join Me In LA Boogie’ that keeps you in orbit all the way through.

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride.

Shakedown in Slabtown was released in August 2020 and is available digitally and as limited edition pink cassette.

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