It seems like it is becoming a yearly occurrence for me to review Rick Shaffer’s latest album. In fact, it is pretty much 12 months to the day that I reviewed his third album, Idiot Flats.  Shaffer’s latest is entitled Stacked Deck, and it picks up right where Flats left off. 
Rick continues on with his fuzz filled, blues rock sound. He has referred to this style as “sonic minimalist,” and when you hear him it certainly makes sense.  The songs have a classic garage vibe to them and won’t overwhelm in attempts to be complicated.
“Found My Love” is a prime example of this “sonic minimalist” idea. If you take away the effects and the tambourine you could easily imagine someone singing it to you in your living room.
While I do enjoy reviewing albums by artists that I have before, it can be a blessing and a curse.  If I look at Stacked Deck from the perspective of someone that has never heard Rick Shaffer before, I would definitely recommend you give it a listen.  It’s got a cool sound that combines the Rolling Stones at their bluesiest (“Talking About You”) and gives it a more modern, fuzzy kick.  On the other hand, some of us have heard Shaffer’s previous work and are already familiar and wondering what’s new.  To you I say, give it a few listens.  At first it may sound too similar to some of Shaffer’s previous efforts, but it will grow on you.  The slide guitar and harmonica play more of a role this time around and I feel it’s heavier on the blues side than rock (“Time or Love”).  I prefer Shaffer’s vocals more on these tracks and would like to see his future releases go further down this route.  Still, with Stacked Deck Rick Shaffer continues to pump out strong garage rock albums.
Key Tracks: Found My Love, Talking About You, Time or Love 
• Kevin Kozel — Senior Staff