Artist displays quirky charm in lyrics, local performances

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This local artist feature was put into this issue not because the artist at hand, Shinyribs, has released any new music albums, EPs, or even singles.

Nay, his next show is not until Dec. 13 at Strange Brew and, upon writing this piece, there has been no other news.

This feature is timely perhaps only because Shinyribs has a song about sweet potatoes, and we all know it is root vegetable season. 

Sweet Potato,” off of 2013’s “Gulf Coast Museum,” is arguably the best song about sweet potatoes out there and just one of the reasons Shinyribs is one of Texas’ greatest treasures.

Kevin Russell is the man behind it all as the lead singer, songwriter and ukele-ist. It was his need for a creative outlet beyond his first band, The Gourds, that Shinyribs came into being back in 2008.

The Gourds were a long-established band and Austin party source since 1994, delivering Americana melodies and other down-and-dirty country shenanigans (plus some Snoop Dogg and R. Kelly covers) up until their final farewell this past October.

Russell brings their kooky Texas country-rock flair and more to his side project Shinyribs, where he has been able to further get in touch with his composing side.

The result is songs like “Sweet Potato,” an all-too-alluring ballad to a favorite food, as well as deeper, more sensitive cuts like “Sweeter than Scars.”

Lyrics like “Dreams about the future/Songs are about the past/Sometimes it takes a suture/to make the feeling last” off the aforementioned song reveal his old Texas soul. He grew up in Beaumont and has spent enough time touring in Louisiana and Florida that he has an ear for swamp rock too. 

Yet while his words reveal his close eye on the world around him, his live performances make plain his young heart, still probably soaked in beer.

With live performances that bounce between gospel (see “Poor People Store”) and redneck (see “Poor People Store“), Shinyribs is a crackerbox full of energy. 

He may wear sweatpants to the show, but he will furiously jam on his ukele almost as provocatively as he will entertain the crowd with dancing (necessary for “Sweet Potato”).

Delivering music that is at once twisted and literary, eccentric and sincere, Shinyribs is a rare breed of performer.

He is a Texas legend you really need to see to believe.