“I was talking to another preacher friend of mine, and he was kind of upset with me. He called me a backslider, and I was like, well, yeah, that’s what I am,” Elvie Shane tells American Songwriter. “But then I got to thinking about the word and I was like, ‘Man, that kind of seems like human to me—a pretty human thing to be.”
The more Shane thought about it, the more he liked the sound of being a “backslider.”
“It’s just the human experience,” he says. “Love found, love lost. Mistakes made in the recklessness of youth, lessons learned from mistakes made.”
With his curiosity peaked, Shane decided this was the spark he needed. So, he tapped into his creative side and decided to write his story the best way he knew how—through song. And in the fall of 2021, he dropped a 15-track album titled Backslider.
Fortunately, we caught up with the singer/songwriter to chat about his album and the inspirations behind it.
Backslider is a country album overall, but the rock undertones create a complexity that’s hard to come by. There’s also a tinge of gospel in the mix as a nod to Shane’s time spent singing in a small town Kentucky church as a child. And to add yet another layer to his sound, Shane reveals that he’s a Mac Miller fan. There’s just something about the lyricism that emanates from R&B and hip-hop music that inspires his own songwriting. Overall, he explains, his style can’t be defined by just one genre. Where is the fun in that?
“It’s probably going to sound country no matter what I do, but I don’t ever want to be put in a box,” he says. “I think music is supposed to be expressed in a very dynamic plethora of ways. And I’m out here exploring where the boundaries are and trying to pick a fight with [the boundaries] as often as I can.
“Country music isn’t called country because it’s all about pine trees and tailgates,” he adds. “It’s the music of our country.” And that includes rock, gospel, R&B, and everything in between.
Ultimately, Shane was weaving an audible storybook. “I put a lot of thought into the record before we put it out and it’s laid out in three chapters,” he says. The first chapter Shane dubbed “The Dazed and Confused Year,” then there are “The Mandi Years” (dedicated to his wife), and finally “The Nashville Years.” These chapters aren’t explicitly defined, but the subtle nuance of each chapter is there when you listen for it. It’s that attention to detail that elevates Shane’s music and cultivates his following.
More specifically songs like “Love Cold Beer Cheap Smoke” bring the energy to a high level on the record. Then the core and the heart of the album appear in charming tribute tracks like “My Kinda Trouble,” which is then followed by tunes for Shane’s fellow Nashville backsliders on “Keep on Strummin’.”
And we can’t forget the song that started it all—”My Boy.” Shane released the song a year before Backslider dropped, and it became a country radio No. 1 hit. The singer’s lyrics about a man’s love for his stepson arrested the attention of millions of music fans.
And at the end of the album, and at the end of the day, we’re joining the ranks of Shane’s backsliders. We like the sound of falling down and getting back up again.