JOAN SHELLEY – ” The Spur “

Posted: June 26, 2022 in MUSIC

At this point in her career, we would probably settle for a “pretty good” album from Joan Shelley. But no, “The Spur” continues an unbroken streak of masterpieces for the Louisville-based artist. It’s a record that features some of Shelley’s very best song writing, bolstered by sensitive and occasionally surprising arrangements, ravishingly lush at some points, spare and spectral at others. “The Spur” is a wonder, from start to finish. 

Folk-musician based out of Louisville, Kentucky, Joan Shelley released her acclaimed seventh album back in 2019, Like “The River Loves The Sea“. In the Spring of 2021, whilst Joan was seven months pregnant, she went to Earthwave Farm in the Kentucky countryside, and, alongside producer James Elkington, recorded the songs that would become her eighth album. Featuring collaborations with the likes of Bill Callahan and Meg Baird, the album will be out this summer via No Quarter, as a preview of its release Shelley has this week shared the sparkling title track, “The Spur“.

Recalling the gestation of “The Spur”, Joan recalls the track came from a “period of opposite extremes”, inspired by the duality of, “intellectual hyper-connection and physical isolation”, which came with the joy of parenthood and marriage during the darkness of the pandemic. The track opens in a traditionally psych-folk fashion, as Joan’s richly hued vocal joins the complex push-and-pull of the finger-picked guitars. From there though “The Spur” is a track of delightful surprises, from the increasing presence of the buzzing organ to the distorted fuzz that slices through the outro. In the album notes for “The Spur”, Joan references a line by the novelist Wendell Berry, “make a poem that does not disturb the silence from which it came”, that’s exactly what Joan’s music seems to do, it enhances the calm, adds to the tranquillity, takes nothing from the thought just enhances its clarity.

Joan Shelley might in her own words be, “a bird on a branch echoing others”, yet it’s she has a special talent that echoes them so well that for a moment you feel like you’re hearing these sounds for the very first time,

The Spur” is out June 24th via No Quarter. 

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