Joan Shelley – The Spur

Joan Shelley’s latest album, The Spur, is a record of raw beauty and naked emotions that’ll resonate with you down to your very DNA.

Released on No Quarter Records, this album features some of Shelley’s most wistful songwriting yet, as she reflects on the bleakness of our present and the perhaps weakened rays of hope that shine into our future. In somber and meditative tones, Shelley also sings of the importance of having your home. A home to retreat to, raise a family in and to create an extension of yourself through.

She also speaks of love and companionship in the same exact way. This is indeed a record born out of the complicated existential needs and desires that many of us discovered we had throughout the course of pandemic and (sort of) post-pandemic life.

Songs like “Fawn” and “Why Not Live Here,” remind us that while the world is becoming a scarier and more unstable place to live, we must reach to our loved ones, our community and our own private spaces for the comfort, steadiness and calm that we are missing.

With the aid of Bill Callahan, Meg Baird and Spencer Tweedy, as well as many other great musicians, Shelley forges a polished yet rustic sound that incorporates elements of modern folk rock, old time country music and chamber folk (especially on the Judee Sill-meets-Sandy Denny-like “Bolt”). Through this well varnished aural blend, you can clearly feel the Louisville, KY artist processing both her weariness and the warmth of her newly acquired motherhood. This is particularly true in songs like the stark piano-based “Between Rock and Sky.”

Shelley’s new LP perfectly captures how many of us right now are suddenly reconsidering what we want out of our lives, and redefining what’s most important to us. It’s an album of redrawn maps, escape routes and the beacon-like glow of the always burning home fires. May it always guide us when we need it most.

Click here to order The Spur on vinyl, CD or digital today.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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