Singer/songwriter Michelle Shocked will release three albums June 7 on her own Mighty Sound label through RED Distribution. “I’m not gonna try to convince myself that it was practical,” the artist says. “But I do tend to think in concepts of trilogies, triptychs, trios. It seems like a complete cycle to me.”
“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” is a bluesy rock album, produced by Dusty Wakeman (Dwight Yoakam) with his Mad Dog studio house band — guitarist Doug Pettibone, keyboardist Skip Edwards and drummer Dave Raven — backing Shocked.
“Got No Strings,” meanwhile, is a campy, Western swing interpretation of 10 Disney film favorites that will earn the singer comparisons to k.d. lang. ETown’s Nick Forster produced the set, which boasts everything from “The Jungle Book” number “Bare Necessities” to the “Dumbo” classic “Baby Mine.”
The last of the three is “Mexican Standoff,” described as a tribute to Shocked’s Texas roots and the Latin aspect of her adopted home of Los Angeles, produced by Wakeman with help on one half from Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin and Mark Howard (Lucinda Williams, Vic Chesnutt) on the other. Vocally recalling Bonnie Raitt on this one, Shocked is backed by a cast that includes Attractions/Imposters drummer Pete Thomas and Los Super Seven’s Max Baca on Bajo Sexto, a traditional 12-string conjunto instrument.
Long known as something of a folk punk, Shocked began winning fans with 1986’s spare, ragged, lo-fi treasure “The Texas Campfire Tapes.” A rebellious follow-up and Mercury debut, “Short Sharp Shocked,” mined much of the same inspiration with studio fidelity and peaked at No. 73 on The Billboard 200. She turned the tables with 1989’s “Captain Swing,” which delved into big band fare, and has continued to explore on subsequent independent releases.
Despite having recorded all this music in December and January, Shocked is already planning a tribute to pioneering blueswoman Memphis Minnie and to explore New Orleans jazz, gospel and electronica on another three discs.
“You can’t stop creative momentum,” Shocked says. “When it hits, you gotta roll with it.”