The Man Who Made Himself A Name
Nine Mile Records
Shelby Earl’s new record, The Man Who Made Himself a Name, offers a slight deviation from the brooding, guitar-centric tendencies of her first two albums, Burn the Boots (2011) and Swift Arrows (2013).
Tracks like “James” and “The Vapors” offer a high-octane energy that showcase the Seattle singer-songwriter’s powerful vocals all within a dance-inducing sound. Despite the upbeat rhythm and musical levity, many of these songs still chronicle spiritual dissonance and complicated matters of the heart.
These tracks frequently deal with the kind of gratitude that stems from accepting experiences—good and bad— as they come. In “Stay With Me Tonight” Shelby synthesizes the duality of love and loss, ‘I will still smile cause you were here yesterday’ sums up a maturation that saturates the record. “Strong Swimmer” is a beautiful look at personal grit sung with the power of a gospel-folk infusion.
“What Am I To Do” is the last track on the record. There is a minimalism in the sound and in the imagery that combines with an achy understanding of heartbreak. ‘He says I sing so pretty when I sing it blue/Now what am I to do?’ encapsulates an artistic struggle to explore the beauty of sadness without becoming engulfed by it. This is something that Shelby seems to master.
The Man Who Made Himself a Name takes on a multitude of sounds that bring out both joy and pain in equal doses. The mix of pop, folk, and gospel textures make each song stand out as they keep the listener eager and pleasantly surprised throughout.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: SHELBY EARL – THE MAN WHO MADE HIMSELF A NAME