If you were plunged into an icy bath of fear when Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was recently hospitalized, picturing a world without funky, punk, fun rock n’ roll, fear not! Although Mr. Kiedis recovered, alt-funk-rockers have some extra insurance with Cambridge, Ontario's Shy Harry!
Unfortunately for Shy Harry, that’s only about six people in the entire world. Rock n’ roll - in all its forms - loses cultural traction with each passing second, it seems. the styles Shy Harry is working in are already marginalized, and the rough, wooly production and engineering on the band's self-titled debut Shy Harry isn't slick enough to win any converts.
Which is unfortunate, as there are a lot of nice elements with Shy Harry. The singer's got a smooth and soulful voice, which could be sculpted into something transcendent if it were made to gel with the music a bit more, perhaps a bit more Kevin Pariker of Tame Impala and a little less John Maher.
Likewise, if some of the music were brought more front and center, like the luminous psychedelic tapestry of beats and chiming guitars with the onset of album opener "Love Song," Shy Harry could sound more in-line with recent psych-rock- opuses like Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool.
Basically, to cut a long story short, Shy Harry needs to get with the times just a little bit more. Not exactly in their creativity - as the songs all feature stunning moments, like the flurrying acoustic guitar solos of "Take Me Alive" - but just in their production.
I have a sense giving that this is the band's debut, that Shy Harry was dealing with time, budget and gear limitations, so don't write this band off! The instrumentation is utterly sick, and well worth a more than cursory listen, especially if one is looking for some musical inspiration.
As for the vocals, I'm going to go against my own advice here and suggest that he go back a little further, past the in-sounds of a few years ago. Dig up a few records from Van Morrison or maybe some Frank Sinatra, and study the masterful phrasing and ability to convey emotionality in the details, using techniques like vibrato, head voice, multiple octaves, etc.
I'm going to be blunt and admit that this is one area where I have a hard time overcoming my reviewer's bias. I absolutely despised the fake-funky-acoustic-hippie-lite singer/songwriter fare of the late '90s and early '00s. When the inevitable nostalgic return comes for that yarbling, most white bread of music comes back in, my lifelong bitter cynical nihilism may be justified, and if it turns out that there isn't a god, I will create him/her to answer for it.
Still, Shy Harry's debut has its charms, particularly in the guitar and drum department, so take a listen, especially if you're looking for some instrumental inspiration.
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