The five members of Whiskey Shivers revive the joyful essence of a community barn dance in “Pray for Me,” a Cajun-inflected track from their upcoming self-titled album, out Sept. 23.
Jumping right into the song’s sing-along chorus, you’ll notice how the Austin, Texas, band builds a full-bodied sound from the simple instruments of just plain folks: a washboard being slammed, a lunchtime triangle being rung, a banjo being plucked and a fiddle getting sawed on. Add to that some friends shouting and slippery steel guitar, and you’ve got a night full of entertainment ready to go.
“Hell, yeah!” exclaims guitarist and vocalist Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa. “Keep an ear open for those auditory Easter eggs hidden throughout the album. We’ve got a whip, a stroh, chains, we even mic’d up some garbage and smacked it around.”
The anything-goes philosophy is a big part of the band’s mission. On “Pray for Me,” their approach lends a lighthearted feel to lyrics that would be at home in even the bluesiest of tunes.
“I was having one of those days where you can’t really do anything right and it seems like everyone’s watching you,” Horti tells CMT Edge. “It sucked. The storyline started taking a vague shape in my head: There’s this guy who tries to do right, but somehow ends up adding to the pile of wrong things he’s done anyway.”
It took a contrasting upbeat arrangement to finish the song up.
“It was a couple of weeks later, and the song of the day (that I kept on repeat) was ‘Diggy-Liggy-Lo’ by Doug Kershaw. I did my best attempt at that Cajun feel, and the tune started making more sense and a narrative started taking shape.”
With talented Americana artist Robert Ellis producing the album, the band feels like they’ve shown their abilities on a variety of musical styles.
“Like us, it could be easy to tuck him away into just the country category, when he’s more than that,” said Horti about their astute producer. “He’s a total genre-bender, which is what we strive to be as well.”
Picture yourself at a bayou hoedown with the CMT Edge premiere of Whiskey Shivers’ “Pray for Me.”