Ear to the Sound: "Almost There" by The Winter Shakers
If you've ever seen The Winter Shakers live, you know that they have a unique stage energy. Band leader, Jeremy Shanok, has a big, playful, and even slightly goofy stage presence. But don't be fooled by his unassuming live performances, there's a tremendously attentive, focused craftsmanship to the new record by The Winter Shakers.
"Almost There" captures some of the finest moments of The Winter Shakers. Shanok is emotive, but polished and shimmering in his vocal delivery. The musicianship is organic, but taut. The songs are anthemic, but warm. The new record straddles folk, acoustic, indie, and rock genres, and amalgamates some of the best elements of several musical styles. Each song feels full and actualized, with instrumentation carefully sculpted around memorable, catchy hooks. It's an album that you'll love at first listen, but after several more listens, you'll really enjoy wrapping it around your ears like a warm blanket. It's a dense musical accomplishment, but "Almost There" also transparently captures all the warmth and playfulness that The Winter Shakers are known for in their live sets.
The production on the record deserves special mention. It's a fantastic, sparkling, thoughtful treatment of the songs, adding clarity, brightness, and sheen to a buffet of imaginative musical ideas that culminate in big choruses. Jeremy Shanok composed and performed the majority of the music himself, but there are elegant string contributions from Sada James Doup, April Cameron, Brian Atwell, Chris Worswick. There are also choral vocal performances by Lizzy Rose, Noah Byrd, and Michelle Searle. And the album is wonderfully adorned by the beautiful artwork of Orion Misciagna, also known as Seattle Live Painter.
To summarize, "Almost There" by The Winter Shakers is an album that you'll love. It's a fantastic record, but it's also music that you'll feel good listening to, which is maybe even more important. Catch The Wintershakers Saturday, August 24th at the Conor Byrne Pub, at the release show for their new record. You'll be glad you were there!
UPDATE: Iconic, Seattle band, The Head and the Heart, have now been added to the album release show as well!