Shannon Shaw, the captivating vocalist, bassist, and founder of Shannon & the Clams, valiantly strikes out on her own, gracing us with her first solo album, Shannon In Nashville. In a nod to Dusty Springfield's 1969 classic Dusty In Memphis, Shaw made her own pilgrimage down South to collaborate with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and a congregation of revered old-school session musicians which have played on notable records by Elvis, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Herbie Mann, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Cash, to name just a few.
Auerbach shines as a producer here and possesses a keen eye for talent. He's lovingly scooped up this diamond in the rough from the punk world for his own recording studio and record label, Easy Eye Sound. The record's lush orchestration seamlessly melds the Nashville Sound with the Motown Sound – both known for crossing a type of roots music over into pop – and provides the wings for Shaw's naturally anguished, torchy voice to soar. The all-star lineup comprises drummer Gene Chrisman and Bobby Wood (keys and percussion) of the Memphis Boys, American Sound Studio's house band that breathed life into hits by Elvis, Neil Diamond, Herbie Mann, and Dusty Springfield. Rounded out by bassist Dave Roe, guitarists Russ Pahl, Auerbach and others, Shaw's session crew boasts a mile-long resume.
Shannon In Nashville exudes a self-possessed melancholy that sets the scene for Shaw to comb through a personal history of love lost to time, circumstance, fear or neglect. "I Might Consider" reigns as the most hauntingly beautiful rendition of this recurring theme as it retraces the fading lines of who-did-what-to-who in hopes of a truce. Lyrically reminiscent of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner's heart-breaking duet, "Just Someone I Used to Know," Shannon In Nashville's kick off song, "Golden Frames," illustrates the dilemma of dealing with love's artifacts that torturously outlive the relationship from whence they came.
After coming out on the other side of heartbreak, Shaw grapples with the guilt of breaking someone else's heart when the tables are turned in "Cold Pillows" and the Amy Winehouse-esque "Broke My Own." "Love I Can't Explain" speaks more to Shaw's self-preservationist tendency to hit the eject button as soon as she catches a whiff of rejection. "Freddies 'n Teddies" further reinforces the need for dignity maintenance when putting yourself back out there on the dating scene. Ultimately, the bittersweet ballads of Shannon In Nashville uphold the elation of love while mourning its loss. Shaw embraces the bravery of daring to love, reminding us that even heartbreak can be a life-affirming, self-teachable moment.