28 Nov 2020
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In The Shallows - Album Review: In The Shallows

10 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

I was mightily impressed with the single Hold On, so of course jumped at the opportunity to hear the debut album by Wellington-based duo In The Shallows before the official release date. This finds Danni Parsons (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Lance Shepherd (vocals, guitar, percussion) on a musical journey; sometimes it is just the two of them while at others it can be a full band, or any combination with the likes of  bassist Andy Bain (Fur Patrol),  drummer Nick Brown (Eb & Sparrow, Vorn), cellist Bonnie Schwarz (Good Habits), Steve Rokosh (keyboards), Chris Winter (trumpet), Chris Peirce (sax), Pete Shaw (accordion), Davie Dubman (keyboards) and Matiu Te Huki (guitar). This allows them to add many musical touches and nuances to the songs, but at the heart of all of them are the vocals and guitars of Danni and Lance.

This is an incredibly interesting album, as while the focus is singer/songwriter acoustic folk, there is plenty of other things going on within it, with material stretching as wide as American country and even to reggae. I must confess this last style rather threw me, as I did not expect reggae on this album, but I Can’t Reach You is an absolute delight with wonderful vocals, a great horn section, and keyboards and guitars which makes this the perfect summer song.

The singles Hold On and Take It Easy are the perfect opening to the album, dynamic and full of  joy. There is a very strong bond between Danni and Lance, with Danni’s vocals pure and clear and always to the front, but  the harmonies from Lance provide depth and breadth to the sound. The breadth of styles on offer is what really makes this album stand out, so an upright bass may be an important element in one song, or strident electric guitar on another, keyboards here, cello there, horn sections on another. Over the last few days I have been playing this album on repeat in a vain effort to find the right words (I failed), but what I have noticed that even when listening to it six or seven times in a row (which is what I did yesterday while writing live reviews) it is still fresh and invigorating. Each time I play it I get more from it, and my favourite song keeps switching. Currently this is Don’t Be Afraid, which features just Danni and Lance with cellist Bonnie Schwarz. It is delicate, humbling and passionate, and feels as if Danni is singing directly to the listener, one on one. The lyrics to all their material are well thought out and often contain direct comment and messages, with this being especially poignant. “Don’t be afraid to speak your truth, Don’t be afraid of what it will do to you”, are words I live by and to hear them in this format is wonderful.

This is a very special album indeed; one I know I am going to take with me down the years and return to time and again. Anyone who enjoys acoustic music, performed by some wonderful singers, containing songs with a purpose yet so varied that the album never gets tiring, will find this is simply essential.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About In The Shallows

Blending catchy vocal hooks with soaring harmonies and atmospheric acoustic guitar, weaving in tales of love, loss, connection, redemption and empowerment - leaving audiences spellbound and wanting more.

Full Band includes Andy Bain (Fur Patrol) and Nick Brown (Eb & Sparrow, Vorn).

A little more about In The Shallows...

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for In The Shallows

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