Review: Joan Shelley, 'Joan Shelley' | WVIA

Review: Joan Shelley, 'Joan Shelley'

Last Updated by Stephen Thompson on

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Late April is a little late for New Year's resolutions — and we've blown right past Lent — but there's never a wrong time to seek out new ways to improve your life and approach to the world. So if you're looking for a path to betterment, try this one: Every time you find yourself marinating in Internet grievances, or fuming in traffic, or otherwise tapping into your own personal Strategic Outrage Reserve, resolve to take a moment, don a pair of headphones, situate yourself in a quiet room, and soak up the music of Joan Shelley.

Each of the Kentucky singer, songwriter and guitarist's albums qualifies as a headache remedy, nerve tonic and comfort food rolled into one. Backed beautifully by guitarist Nathan Salsburg — whose own solo acoustic instrumentals are peacefully enveloping in their own right — Shelley's music mixes the sound and feel of down-to-earth Appalachian folk music, airier U.K. folksingers like Sandy Denny, and soothing conversations with an understanding friend.

Shelley's eponymous fourth solo album follows in the calming, tender tradition of its predecessors, in which precious little motion is wasted. It's her first project to be produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who brings in a pair of his own favorite collaborators — his son Spencer Tweedy on drums, as well as guitarist James Elkington — while sticking with a production aesthetic in which he helps artists strip their sound down to little more than the essentials.

For Joan Shelley, that means bathing her warm and inviting voice in gentle, intricately played acoustic guitars while otherwise framing her squarely in the spotlight. As on 2015's sublime Over And Even, the songs here are consistently gorgeous, from the album-opening tone-setter "We'd Be Home" through the ominous "I Got What I Wanted," the insistent "I Didn't Know," the dreamily piano-infused "Pull Me Up One More Time," the simultaneously sunny and wistful "Wild Indifference," and beyond. As befitting its title, Joan Shelley is the sound of an artist who knows exactly who she is — buoyed by top-of-the-line collaborators, and still perfectly suited to songs that seep empathy and grace out of every impeccable note.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

pbs.pngnpr.pngpbskids.png
listenlive_fulllength.jpg cove_spacer.png
Now Playing on WVIA-FM

        

nprnews5.jpg

Suspected Driver Of Toronto Van Attack Arrested

Police in Toronto have located the vehicle and arrested the suspected driver after a van attack Monday left 10...

Toronto Police Say Suspect In Van Attack Not Associated With Any Terrorist Group

At an evening press conference — police chief Mark Saunders told reporters the death toll has climbed to 10, after a...

Former President George. H.W. Bush Hospitalized For Blood Infection

The 93-year-old former president was admitted to a Houston hospital for treatment just one day after the funeral of...

Colorado Supreme Court Boots GOP Congressman Off 2018 Ballot

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Rep. Doug Lamborn's signatures were gathered by someone who wasn't a state...

Waffle House Shooting Underscores How Gun Laws Vary From State To State

Travis Reinking's guns were seized in Illinois, but he may have broken no laws by having those guns — including an...

healthybites_sidebar2.png reserve3.png

plugplay_square.png

artscene_header.png