Shaver: Eddy, we hardly knew ye. Photo by Sarah Jorgensen Billy Joe Shaver followeda similar, even more troubled route of drunkenness and brawling, but the self-promotional M.O. of this brilliant singer-songwriter, composer of "Honky Tonk Heroes" among many others, was far more aggressive. Ambushing song publishers on the street to demand they sign him, crashing into Waylon Jennings’ recording sessions and threatening to kick his ass for not cutting his songs, Shaver became a legendary annoyance. He eventually gained recognition as one of country’s most artful craftsmen, and when he joined forces with his long-estranged son, Eddy, in the early ’90s, the result was some outstanding music. Eddy’s pyrotechnical, Dickie Betts–inspired guitar work and the scarcely adorned beauty of Joe’s lyrics elevated their work to a singular altitude. But Eddy’s fatal New Year’s Eve 2000 heroin overdose seemed a down-for-the-count blow. Shaver took it head-on, resurrecting the solo tracks Eddy had been working on and completing them with his own newly written lyrics. The result, Billy & the Kid, is an unprecedented masterpiece of raw emotion and metallurgic guitar expression, signifying not just the agony of loss and a quest for personal resolution, but an almost metaphysical dialogue that at times seems to bring together our waking life and the unknown realm awaiting. Not exactly the most comfortable territory to visit, but it’s tempered with a successful if unusual mixture of two different, highly creative minds that emphasizes the strengths of each. Billy & the Kid’s postmortem nature thrusts the listener into a shadowy landscape lit by a guttering torch that reveals glimpses of father and son, two lost souls reaching for a mutual point of contact. When Shaver sings, "In the spirit world I see him with his crown of solid gold . . . God only knows why I’m still living . . .," he generates not just an empathic response, but a tremendously effective musical depth and atmosphere. Alternating aesthetic delicacy and guitar swagger, the pair’s ultimate collaboration is at once a stern warning and an uplifting celebration, a confluence of dark circumstance and illuminative passion that is altogether remarkable. David Allan Coe plays the Key Club on Thursday, December 16.