Review: The Shaker Hymn – Rascal’s Antique (Heavy Noids Records)
Words: Conor O’Toole
It’s refreshing to hear a band not interested in scenes. That’s the overriding impression from the debut album by The Shaker Hymn. There’s something endearingly out of fashion about these ten songs, something classic, something on their own terms.
The songs occupy a kind of Americana, filled with jangly electric guitars which fall short of that sunburst Byrdsian sheen, instead retaining a cautionary tone or shadow. To mirror this, the vocals often carry a distorted edge which works great with the impassioned delivery, heard to best effect on the blast of fresh air which is first single ‘Hunter & the Headman’.
It’s refreshing too to hear a singer “sing out”.
The beautiful ‘Caroline’ reveals another side to the album, a plain-speaking ballad, unshowy and from the heart, all mellotrons and strings, and the guitar playing a little reminiscient of Keith Richards under the influence of Gram Parsons. That’s just as invigorating.
With its warm production and that something heartfelt, most of the album would sit quite comfortably on your wireless next to (fill in current rock rotation), but on its own terms and likely to stand out from the crowd.
‘Hang you from your heart’ is one of several lyrics that could stop you in your tracks. ‘Cold unknown’ another minor key warning.
In among the emotional turmoil, a few Beatleish arrangements and chord sequences leak through (think Rubber Soul in particular or the fuzzy rock end of The White Album), lending the album a sense of structure, a strong thread to build around.
The Shaker Hymn sound like an albums band in fact. And this is an old-fashioned album, with a bunch of quietly memorable songs.