Sun, Dec 11, 2016 8:00 pm
- Price: $10.00
The billowing curtains of sound on Just Crazy Enough, the second full length album from virtuoso indie-folk band SHEL, will be both familiar and far-out to fans of the exciting sister quartet. The classically inspired mandolin, violin and piano are there, along with the band’s glowing vocal harmonies. But we also hear dense, ethereal textures that hover between the digital and the analog. Grooves are deeper, emboldened with electronic ambience and beat-boxing. The overall effect sheds light on their broad collection of influences, from the daring rock bands of the 60s to the contemplative composers of the 18th Century, and even the waves of modern electronica. Because or in spite of this effervescent mashup, Just Crazy Enough is a masterful move for SHEL. It’s the integral, front-to-back album statement the band has been preparing to make since they began making music.
Dynamic change and self-searching was inevitably going to be a big part of SHEL’s story in these early career years. Sisters Eva, Hannah, Sarah and Liza Holbrook are, after all, twenty-something women, born in a five-year span and raised in a bohemian, art-loving family in Fort Collins, CO. Each found an instrument to master early on, studying classical music while composing and arranging unique works for their anomalous instrumentation, violin, mandolin, piano and drums. They gained performing experience working with their songwriter father, and soon had festival promoters and media figures championing their fresh, intricately drawn sound.
SHEL music is many things sonically, but its coherence and distinctiveness comes from the sisters’ commitment to making every song an honest four-way collaboration. That said, every artist profits from outside perspective, and circumstances aligned in recent years to work with Eurythmics co-founder and world-renowned electronic music creator Dave Stewart, whose production credits include albums with Stevie Nicks, Joss Stone and Ringo Starr. SHEL arranged and recorded tracks in Nashville with long-time producer Brent Maher. Then Stewart, in his Los Angeles studio, sculpted sounds and beats to complement each track. The mandate was to uphold the soul of the songs, the acoustic musicality of the sisters as players, the subtlety of Eva’s lead vocals and the colors of the four-way harmonies.
In a new music scene that’s crowded, genre-twisting and attuned to mastery in live performance, SHEL is a must-know young band for anyone who wants to keep up with tomorrow’s greats. Their spellbinding live performances tap deep skills as instrumentalists and total trust to generate improbable power on stage. They share some contemporary musical DNA with Americana bands, Punch Brothers and Crooked Still, but just as surely with adventuresome artists such as tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent and Alt-J. The future belongs to artists who go beyond mere genre blending by focusing on their inner music and the four powerful personalities of SHEL do just that.