Songs like “Just Like Sunshine”, “Lover Man,” and “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” certainly showcase this soulful, romantic balladeer side with the latter song sounding like the kind of song that should really find a receptive audience at country music radio. “Sun Comes ‘Round Again” starts off with a few vibes that recall Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” mixed with some classic soul tunes as James Otto takes his sound deeper towards country soul. It’s a laid-back tune perfect for a house party playlist.
The party vibe continues on “Are Ya With Me,” a road-house throwback that recalls ZZ Top while the title tune “Shake What God Gave Ya” mixes playful rhythms with a down home groove and isn’t meant to be more than part of the soundtrack of a house party or dance floor session. “It’s A Good Time (For a Good Time” follows much of the same vibe. It’s a similar theme that’s been explored by singer/songwriter Michael Franti on his most recent rock/pop tunes and what’s so wring with a ‘feel good’ or ‘good time’ album?
The second single to this album is the one James Otto has proclaimed as his favorite track from the record and it is a song that was chronicled in our single review. Basically, “Soldiers & Jesus” is a heartfelt tune that thanks the troops for what they sacrifice for us while at the same time comparing the same traits to Jesus. The previously mentioned country soul pioneer Ronnie Milsap joins James on the R&B closer “Good Thing’s Gone Band” and it feels like a fitting end to an album that certainly positions James Otto for a position that hasn’t really been taken-up by anyone in contemporary mainstream country music. While nowhere near a traditional country record, Shake What God Gave Ya is nonetheless a strong third album for James Otto.