I admit I didn’t know what to expect from looking at the cover of Shmohawk’s self-titled album Shmohawk. Everything screams “rebel,” from the simple italicized script, to the defiant middle finger and clutched (beer?) bottle, to the smirk that seemed to say “you just have no idea what you’re getting into, and I know this for a fact.” The smirk was right – Shmohawk’s mix of blues, smooth melodies, and poignant lyrics make for a multidimensional album that simply cannot be taken at face value.
The album kicks off with “Believe It’s Done,” a cautiously optimistic song, enhanced with a brisk tambourine and a little taste of harmonica here and there. I like how upbeat the instruments are, as they keep the song light.
“Capitol Hill Inspired” has an incredibly catchy and fun chorus, which juxtaposes well with the more serious lyrics. There’s some really good songwriting riding along the plucky guitar chords and it makes a song like this worth a second or even third listen.
By the time “A Finer Line” hits my ears, I’m convinced I’ve been transported in time to a dingy bar along a dirt road somewhere – the kind that don’t look like much from the outside, but offers some of the greatest experiences once you get in. This song is a lot like that experience, in a good way; the first chords don’t fully prepare you for the depth of the music that develops halfway through the song.
Everything about “Rearrange” just works, from the range of the vocals, to the smooth chords and scales played in beautiful melody, down to the bass part that punctuates the song at all the right places. On top of how brilliant it sounds, the lyrics are wonderfully uplifting. Following on a similar track is “Now Is The Time,” which is energetic but soothing at the same time. I’m not quite sure how they managed to pull that off, but it sounds great.
I really enjoyed listening to this album, especially with all the little melodies and nuances I was treated to during the journey. I would say that a few of the songs sound rather similar; however, for someone who is actively trying to hear their unique sound, this is an absolutely good thing. This is a great album for sitting back with a drink and a cigar in the fresh night air on a summer day.
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