Fans of dirty, timeless, revival rock n roll are do doubt familiar with Shannon and the Clams, a rock band out of Oakland that always promises a good time with their live shows and jam-packed albums. Recently, Shannon Shaw, bassist and singer with the Clams, followed in the footsteps of many singers and songwriters before her and headed down to Nashville to put out what I guess you could call a roots album: Shannon in Nashville. And because she’s a bad ass, with excellent musical taste & knowledge, her record is pretty damn good.
Look at me, recommending a new album. But if you give it a listen, you’ll understand why. Reviewers call it a throwback, something out of time. They throw around the names Dolly and Aretha, like they’ve never heard another woman sing her heart out. But I’d offer some different comparisons. Maybe early Neko Case, if Neko was a baritone. Perhaps Beth Ditto if Beth went country. And sure, Dolly and Aretha, if they were combined into one person in their heydays. But above all, just think of one powerful singer, an accomplished songwriter, pouring out her heart and soul for her own catharsis as much as for our enjoyment. And isn’t that how all the best songs, the ones that hit us the hardest, are made?
The album was produced by a famous dude you probably like, if that gets you more interested in giving it a shot. You can tell the production was carefully put together — the background vocals and musicians are very Spector-esque, which balances nicely with Shannon’s voice, alternating between a lazy-sounding purr and a deep-seated wail. The record draws you in softly, slowly, a siren’s song, then grabs you by the shoulders, forces your eyes open and shakes you awake, all before soothing you right back where you started. A lullaby, reveille, lullaby pattern that has worked for ages, and still works.
The album sounds good digitally, but loads better on vinyl, so if you’re into it at all, I recommend seeking out a copy. You’ll only be pleased with your purchase.