On his second solo album, Hidden Charms, Rick Shaffer is searching for a sound that is both old and new.  Hidden Charms is a strong follow-up to Shaffer’s first solo release, 2010’s Necessary Illusion.  When he isn’t putting out his solo stuff, Shaffer is one half of Philadelphia’s The Reds® along with Bruce Cohen.  With a career dating back to the early 70’s it’s safe to say that Rick Shaffer is truly a rock veteran. 

At first I wasn’t too into the vocals on this album, but that all changed pretty quickly after I realized that Shaffer’s vocals remind me of Iggy Pop.  Not so much early Iggy, as there really isn’t any of that screaming rage on Hidden Charms, but the elder Pop.  I am sure there are plenty of people that don’t love Pop’s vocals, so take that for what you will.  I was also reminded of Ric Ocasek and Tom Petty occasionally, but it’s hard to look past the Pop comparison. 

Looking beyond the vocals, Shaffer’s sound varies nicely and is reminiscent of many great rock artists like the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, T. Rex, and again, some of Iggy Pop’s solo work.  There is some good variety here as several of the songs remind me of different bygone eras.  Shaffer’s fuzzy blues guitar drives each track commendably along the way. 

Shaffer does an admirable job in trying to create something that sounds both old and new, but honestly, it really is much more the former than the latter.  Still, I am quite alright with this.  I feel the intent here was really to try and align the sound with some of today’s bigger blues rock artists like the Black Keys, but I don’t think Hidden Charms really does this, nor does it need to.  It is very good being what it is, a rocking blues record with a classic sound built on decades of great influences. 

Key Tracks: No Big Thing, Nobody Home, Gonna Shout

 4.5 STARS (OUT OF 5)

• Kevin Kozel, Senior Muzik Reviews Writer, February 21, 2011