You may know him as the man who spearheads rasping alternative folk duo The Shabs – but Jon Shaban has just dropped an extensive solo album, “Speak Your Mind” featuring a wealth of artists across the spectrum including Stelth Ulvang (The Lumineers), Ann Jangle and Jay Bones (Fuzigish and Rambling Bones).
With The Shabs about to hit the road on their biggest European tour yet, the album comes at an apt time and is a culmination of tracks written over the last three years, deftly and blatantly navigating themes of heartbreak, failure and personal discovery.
Brimming with everyday life lessons, hidden among rich narrative lyrics, the album is etched in gravelly honesty and visceral storytelling. For the most part the album finds its melodic footing with chiming, classic folk melody built upon a foundation of high tone guitar progressions, piano and occasional cello injections, overlain by Shaban’s easy, roughened vocals.
Opening with a misleadingly summery pace, ‘Dreaming of a Better Place’ is a tribute to a childhood friend who navigates a sour youth, and the repercussions of an abusive family – while ‘Speak Your Mind’ is something of a metaphor in how to live your life, sprung from the bar-side conversation. Percussive effects are rampant in the uplifting homage to his generation at large in ‘We Are The Ones’, and ‘We Did This’ finds an equally cheery approach to existentialism.
This is an album which is raw, relatable and real in its honest simplicity and almost over-full lyricism, and will hit home in more ways than one.
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Listen to the album on Apple Music.