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Posted: December 20th, 2008, by Simon Minter

Polymath, published writer, Renaissance Man – and regular diskant.net contributor – Wil Forbis is now an official recording artist. Shadey’s Jukebox, released a little while back on Rank Outsider Records, is a collection of ten tunes with Forbis on vocal, guitar, mandolin and banjo duty, backed up by a collection of what sound like good ol’ boys on a variety of American Class Rock instrumentation choices.

Anybody familiar with Forbis’ writing, myself included, would expect this album to be a mix of authentic punk rock, piss-taking hair metal and comic-book japery. But it seems that he’s gone so far into the heart of weirdsville Americana in the past that he’s come out as a very straight-laced, by-the-book, normal musician and songwriter. The music here is a combination of swingin’ croon, hick bluegrass and country twang – I guess that nothing could really be more American, and its poker-faced normalcy is more bizarre than any ‘joke’ recordings would ever have been.

Sure, there’s a sense of humour at play – songs called ‘Let’s Get High on Jesus’ and ‘Where There’s a Wil There’s A Way’, goddammit, they’re never going to be humourless. This still sounds authentic however, like Forbis means it – and I severely hope he does, and that it’s not some elaborate art prank. Some of these songs are actually pretty tender and touching. In the context of a world full of knowing, clever-clever music and musicians, this album succeeds by doing things simple: have some ideas, write some words, get some tunes to back them up, and there you go. I expect a tour of whisky bars and shacks across middle America to be forthcoming.

Rank Outsider Records

Wil Forbis

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


1 Response to WIL FORBIS AND THE GENTLEMEN SCOUNDRELS – Shadey’s Jukebox (CD, Rank Outsider)

  1. wil

    Mouseclick press page up Simon — I have to confess that I was unaware you posted this until now. But, yes, you pretty much nailed it… it’s not some elaborate gag. As I once said in a review for this very website of a surprisingly touching song that was included on a Saturday Night Live album, “you don’t have to be funny all the time.