Minneapolis-born singer/songwriter Ted Hajnasiewicz is driven to make music that will speak to audiences in the form of Americana and country-bent rock tunes hellbent on showing us a different side to rock n’ roll altogether. 2019’s This Is What I Do is some of his best on display, while his next release Tony Wanted to Make a Record came right when the pandemic hit. His time under quarantine proved most productive as the songs just kept on coming. He had enough songs for an EP, which he aptly titled Shelter In, a five-track collection of songs that expertly weaves in the uncertainty, fear and moments of joy that most of us are currently experiencing while under lockdown. Yet the themes and subject matters are classical and exuding from every section of this album is a profound timelessness. Without a doubt, these tracks will provoke you to feel something.
Shelter In rolls in with “Sidekick To Superhero,” where layers of harmonica, drums, guitars and what sounds like banjo leans into an uproarious country licking of a good time. The rollicking good tunes feel very energized. Americana and country vibes feed into some great energy. The tone is warm and embracing. Hajnasiewicz’s warm vocals capture the feel-good energies. I thought the jaunty drumming beat was extremely attention-grabbing. The riffs coming from the harmonica were also very spirited. Strings and piano weaves in toward the intro of “Most Of All Be Safe.” They and the flugelhorn make for a striking sound. Eventually, the sounds clear up to just simply acoustic guitar and piano with Hajnasiewicz’s reverberating vocals. The mode in the EP changes up to a more spacious-sounding ballad. This shows Hajnasiewicz is constantly challenging himself with different styles and sounds. The vibe of this track feels very nostalgic and sentimental. On “Untitled,” moody sounds of the guitar greet the start of this song. Simple and unadorned, Hajnasiewicz’s vocals come in. The sparse sounds are stark with a compelling emotional resonance. Next, a drumming beat chimes in. As some bluesy harmonica adds some range, the Americana vibes are warm and reverberating.
After a countdown, some shimmering guitars hone into a melodious sound on “AT&T.” The fine finger-picking on guitar is above all stirring. His performance feels very dynamic. Revving guitars with a full band backing of drums and bass turn the album around with the soulful sing-along worthy type of tune on “Your Face My Day.” The interwoven background vocal harmonies sounded inviting. This uplifting song had some classic rock n’ roll sensibilities. The spiraling guitar solo clinches this. The closer feels like a greatsong to rock out to as the band jams out to some great effect.
Hajnasiewicz is heavily backed by the help of his friends on this record. Behind Hajnasiewicz is Tim Sunde (bass), Mark Ganje (guitars), Sarah Morris (vocals), Katianna Carlon (vocals), David Falbo (harmonica and flugelhorn), Steve Kelzer (piano) and Adam Lain (drums). Together the band dives into many a revving session. Their energy is filled with some feel-good vibes and it is with no doubt their frequencies are packed with tight musicianship and good chemistry. Every member feels in-sync and each decision seems to make the production sharper and more focused. Hajnasiewicz’s warm timbre and golden tunes will resonate with each of us long after the record has stopped spinning. I look forward to seeing where he goes from here.
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