After recording five albums in the seventies, Cale moved from Nashville to California and released Shades in 1981.
Produced by Audie Ashworth, the album, like the majority of Cale’s releases, was not a commercial success, although the Oklahoma singer-songwriter had a loyal cult following among fans and fellow musicians.
Backed by the usual top session musicians, including Reggie Young, Ken Buttrey, and David Briggs, Grasshopper has a slicker, more radio-friendly sound than Cale’s previous album, as is evident in the opening track ˝City Girls,˝ where ˝a poor boy˝ longs for a city beauty but ˝can’t afford no diamond rings or all them other fancy things.˝ In his AllMusic review of the LP, William Ruhlmann notes, ˝J.J.
Cale drifts toward a more pop approach on this album, starting with the lead-off track, ‘City Girls,’ which could almost but not quite be a hit single.
The usual blues and country shuffle approach is in effect, but Audie Ashworth’s production is unusually sharp, the playing has more bite than usual, and Cale, whose vocals are for the most part up in the mix, sounds more engaged.˝