Shawn James – On The Shoulders of Giants

Since Shawn James is coming to Pirate Farm Fest this year with his crew of Shapeshifters I thought it was a good idea to write a review for his latest solo album “On The Shoulders of Giants” which he is promoting on tour in Europe as we speak…

Born in Chicago the singer, songwriter released his first album in 2012 and has since created some extremely powerful music as a solo artist and with his band under the moniker “Shawn James and The Shapeshifters”. While the music with his band is drenched in doom metal with a southern gothic twist (I have no idea how to describe it otherwise) his solo albums are much more laid-back, but the darkness remains. The first thing that strikes you while listening to this album is the absolute power in his voice.

For this record Shawn made the trip to the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis to create a masterpiece in pure and uncut minimal dark blues with a twist of soul, some hints of gospel influence maybe but most of all passion! It does not really matter what name or genre you put on this record, if you like roots music, metal, blues or just have good taste in music, this is a record that you need to have in your collection. Let’s talk about some of the songs…

The album opens with “hellhounds”, a slow paced dark song with some mesmerizing slide guitar parts that sets the tune for the rest of the album. A kick-drum for the rhythm and some tambourine, it looks like this is all Shawn needs and that is pretty damn impressive!
“Snake Eyes” is another of those songs that hits it hard with me. Minimal, a guitar lick that just keeps going, almost hypnotizing and then… THAT VOICE…

“Back Down”… This song… I can see a tribe chanting it before  going to war against some oppressor, or even a single person in a ritual-room, to gain power before making a huge step in life. It’s a song that feeds you with energy and the right amount of anger to do that thing you need to do!

Remember that gospel influence i talked about in the beginning? “Preacher Foretold”, the last song on this album, there you go… I’m not sure what this preacher worshiped, but it makes for a powerful song!

Just go out and see Shawn play, come out to Pirate Farm Fest, buy this record and indulge yourself in good music…

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