I’ve lately found myself listening to selections from Minneapolis songwriter Sean Shiff on a daily basis. The imagery he conjures with his music is beautifully captivating. The sound, completed by handpicked vocalists and instrumentalists is perfectly nestled between country and folk. There is a sense of possibility, that anything can happen, as Shiff’s restless spirit and determined soul investigates our state of being. The vocals are resonant and charmingly rustic, placed ahead of the organic instrumentation, and there’s a reverberated sound to the production that makes the songs feel simultaneously big and airy, yet somehow intimate. His latest song Medicine Land seems to write its own story every time you play it.
On “That’s Just Fine” Sean Shiff tackled the current political climate. Now on “Medicine Land”, he drops the politics (or does he?) from the binomial, and tackles the theme of the climate in the face of global-warming. It’s refreshing, and unbelievably pleasant to the ears from the first time I heard it.
This project brings a uniquely amazing accumulation of richness and melody to the music. Very beautiful stuff, to say the very least. Even if underneath, the underlying message cuts hard and deep. This track isn’t something to dance to but something to relax to, and just think. And then think again.
I’ll be really surprised if Sean Shiff doesn’t receive the recognition I think he deserves, especially in country and folk music circles. His sound is rich with color and adventurous tones. It stirs your emotions and swells your awareness of the world that surrounds you.
The music, the lyrics, the narrative as a whole; it just gets to you. As you listen to “Medicine Land” you get caught up in its charm, and when it’s over you’re just so engaged, knowing everything you heard was real. Kind of like a good story-book, it leaves you craving more when it’s over. It’s one everyone should have in their collection.
It’s that gentle unpretentious that captures your attention most, as Sean Shiff’s songs, executed expertly by his working crew, never shouts, screams or begs for you attention. A track like “Medicine Land”, simply lays its cards on the table for you to see and judge for yourself.
It’s really hard to ignore Sean Shiff’s folksy soundscapes, contemplative lyrics and mediations on life and existence. Regardless of what your genre preference may be. The arrangements glow like daydreams you have while lying under a clear night sky as you stare up at the stars. Sean Shiff makes free and easy indie Americana-based music with an eye for expansive lyrical themes.
So while “Medicine Land” is musically easy on the ear, lyrically, the topic needs careful and profound pondering. There’s a soothing quality to the tone that Sean Shiff and his musical architects make, but it doesn’t put you to sleep, it actually energizes you. If you have an affinity for country and folk music, and you’re attracted by songwriters who care about the world and its people, you really can’t go wrong here in my opinion.
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