With music today taking a nasty turn toward self-pity, an album filled with realization and repelled gloom is a welcome relief. Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett, also known as E, takes a deep breath on the seventh Eels album, Shootenanny!, and blows some fresh air into the soulful funk-rock that made him famous with 2001's Souljacker. While E may no longer sport the Unabomber look that raised eyebrows two years ago, he still manages to create music for warm, dark nights spent ramming along deserted highways on the hunt for something, anything and everything.
Shootenanny! starts off with "All in a Day's Work," a grating piece lifted straight from the Mississippi Delta. Here E airs out his bum attitude right off the bat, transforming it into an Earl Hooker-type blues piece. "Saturday Morning" is a soulful rock anthem that takes a light trek through childhood, as E hearkens back to those long mornings filled with cartoons leading to even longer days that seemed to never end. "The Good Old Days" slows down the pace with a cheesy remembrance about, well, "the good old days" that most would scoff at, although it's passable here.
On the whole Shootenanny! is an amazing progression from the Souljacker. This is a comfortable album that you can dig your nails into without feeling your heart is getting left behind. Each song welcomes listeners with an old-school blues outline filled in with that rock we all thought was dead. The main funk base of E's sound remains consistent but is augmented with harder rock and blues elements, showing he is able to hold onto his signature sound while simultaneously twisting a piece of rose-colored glass into it.