It’s finally fall. I have my fall candle going. One window is cracked just for that fresh air breeze. The house is fairly clean. What I’m trying to say is I’m feeling great– I’m thriving. Outside of snowy winter days, this is my favorite weather and it has me feeling motivated and ready to seize the day but I’m missing that new “fall soundtrack”. Just looking at the cover of Shawn Brown’s ‘The Rain Parade’ EP has me feeling cozy and I’m thinking this could be the ticket so let’s jump into this six-song release and see if it will fit my mood!
“Find Another Way” starts off sweet and fairly simple. With cozy acoustic guitar vibes that kick off the song and the visual of the album cover, I was expecting super country-styled vocals with a heavy southern drawl but, instead, I got something a bit more my speed. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a twang to Shawn’s voice in this opening track but it’s not overpowering and it leans a bit more indie-folk than I had been expecting. It’s so easy to get lost in Shawn’s vocals. There’s a sense of heartbreak in them but also this defiant feeling of optimism and hope. Really, the only perfect word I can think of to describe this opening track is cozy and that’s exactly what I was looking for this morning.
Alexia Anne joins in on the fun for “Testify” which is a bit more upbeat and more jammy than “Find Another Way” while still sticking with the coziness laid out in the opening track. I really love the catchiness of this track but also the simplicity. The vocals absolutely steal the spotlight throughout this track leaving the instrumentation feeling a bit simple on the first listen but, the more you get into this track, the more you realize just how much is going on in the background. Alexia’s voice is the perfect match for Shawn’s. It doesn’t take away from his vocal power but also she is able to prove her own worth. It’s a perfect balance that I have seen many artists miss the mark on. Sadly, this is the only track featuring Alexia Anne but you best believe that after I finish this playthrough, I will be digging into some of her own material.
The title track, “Rain Parade”, was my favorite track on this album. It’s like the best of both worlds already laid out by Shawn. It has the heartbreak felt in “Find Another Way” but with the swagger of “Testify” all wrapped up in a bow of beautiful storytelling. There’s almost a 90s vibe to the instrumentation in this one that I found a bit intriguing. It’s a bit Semisonic, a bit Goo Goo Dolls which, as a 90s baby, I truly appreciated. Again, the coziness of this track can not be understated but neither can the sheer power that comes off of this track.
Things slow down for “Angel of Oakland” and, although this song was a bit more somber than I was in the mood for at the time, I found myself hanging onto every word Shawn was singing. His songwriting, like his vocals, is absolutely stunning and has this way of drawing you in with ease and never letting go. Again, I was struck by how emotionally drenched each word was. Every word has a feeling attached to it and Shawn somehow conveys that feeling perfectly while keeping each string of words super level. Don’t know what I mean? I get it. It’s a hard thing to explain but listen to this track and listen to the infliction of every word or the way he gets a bit gritty with certain words and phrases while having a darker almost crying infliction on others.
The 90s feeling of “Rain Parade” comes back with a vengeance on “9th Street Hymn”. Think Third Eye Blind with a little bit more of a southern twang. Really, it’s a perfect song and I found myself more lost in this one than in the previous tracks because of that and just the slow and steady pace. There’s no rush in this song or any of the ones before it which, as someone who can get a bit manic when working all day, really helped level me out before getting back into my inboxes.
This six song album comes to a close with “Taking On Water”, the most somber and beautiful track on the album. Although I struggle to call any of the tracks on this EP “rockin'”, this one really takes the cake for a ballad-like love song. Even with that mood, there’s no denying Shawn’s talent or the power he has. It’s really the perfect way to wind down this album while still leaving you wanting so much more.
My Favorite Track(s): “The Rain Parade”
For Fans Of: 90s Vibes With Southern Swagger; Coziness; Stunning Storytelling
Mosh-ability: 0 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie Slept on the Couch; Autumn Slept Upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
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