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Music Review – Scott H. Biram –Graveyard Shift

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On his latest release, Graveyard Shift, Scott H. Biram continues to straddle a fine line between sin and salvation. Hailing from Austin, Texas where he leads his self-established and ministered "First Church of the Ultimate Fanaticism," (not a real church) Graveyard Shift finds Scott once again behind the pulpit, a bible outstretched in his right-hand, his left holding a bottle of whiskey behind his back – a wink and a nod in acknowledgement to those in the know.

His fifth album and second release for Bloodshot Records, Graveyard Shift is a stellar example of Scott’s growth as a singer/songwriter. While the lyrics on previous releases were good, they were more the type that one sings at the top of their lungs when they’ve imbibed just a touch too much. The songs on Graveyard Shift make you stop and think – “Most times I can’t sleep at night/I just walk the highway up and down/Sometimes I can’t eat a bite at all/Sometimes I bite off more then I can chew.” We’ve all been there and Scott is giving a name to the pain and frustration that fills our lives. He’s definitely growing as a songwriter.

As mentioned earlier, Scott always walks a fine line between sin and salvation. “Only Jesus” written by Mario Matteoli, let’s us know that only Jesus can set us free then "Long Fingernail" finds Scott having his heart poked by the Devil while he’s looking for love. It’s a dichotomy most of us live – no one is a saint, no one a total sinner, most of us existing in that grey area somewhere in between.

Graveyard Shift also gives voice to Scott’s wide range of guitar styling. It’s no secret Scott is a master of several different blues styles as well as hillbilly finger and flat picking but Graveyard Shift adds a dash of heavy metal and rock into the mix.

I was a bit concerned when Scott signed with Bloodshot that the raw power and recordings of Scott’s previous albums would disappear, lost with higher production values. Graveyard Shift is the right balance of “raw” and production value. The energy and roughness of Scott’s live shows don’t get lost on this release but there’s just enough engineering behind this album that you notice it, not for being too much but for being just right.

Standout tracks include “Plow You Under,” with its low-slung, dirty blues shuffle, “Long Fingernail,” and “No Way.” In fact the entire album is as fine a collection as any Scott has released. My only complaint is the inclusion of “Church Babies,” the final track. The song itself is a lyrically silly romp and play on the old claim that heavy metal music is somehow intrinsically Satanic. “Make ‘em play my record backwards till it fuckin' hurts.” The song isn’t bad; in fact I rather like it. In my opinion though it doesn’t belong on this album. It’s a jarring end to an otherwise outstanding album.

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