Depending on which song you’re listening to, you could call it country with a bluesy, folksy twist. You could call it alt-rock with a country cadence. Gothic bluegrass? Americana? It doesn’t matter. Shakey Graves isn’t bound by, or dependent on, genre. Like a true artist, he pulls technique from anywhere that suits him. The result is unique, catchy, and refreshing.
Southern Gothic is one of my favorite literary genres. I’d argue that certain musicians fit into this genre as well, Shakey Graves among them. Never mind his playfully macabre alias, the themes of his songs touch on death and decay, murder, alcoholism, drug abuse, execution by electric chair, and the way ex-lovers haunt one another. All this, though, is presented with good humor and a (wholesomely) wicked Texas grin, side-by-side with themes of shirking the predictable life and embracing the shiftless, devil-may-care habits of a tramp. Shakey’s musical style is tricky to pin down. Clearly influenced by bluegrass, hobo folk, blues, rock, and country, it might be safest to simply say, “Americana.”