Shallow Side recently released their E.P. titled, simply, “One” this past Friday, followed by a release party in their native Cullen, Alabama. The band has been recently named Loudwire’s “Best New Artist of the Year” and has the approval of Mr. Tommy Shaw. Yes, Styx’s Tommy Shaw, who was impressed by Shallow Side’s cover of the his group’s classic “Renegade”, which appears on “One”. When asked what he thought of it, Tommy replied “Damn that’s smokin’. I approve.” I always try not to put too much stock in a band’s cover of a classic song. Let’s be honest, it’s easy for a shitty band to take a great song and make it sound good. But to start, let’s dive into “One” and see what it has in store for fans.
First, Shallow Side is:
Eric Boatright – Vocals
Cody Hampton – Bass/Guitar
Seth Trimble – Guitar/Keyboard
Heath Fields – Drums
As I mentioned, the guys are from Cullen, Alabama, just a short ride north of Birmingham. One might expect some Southern twinge from songs with titles like “Rebel” and “Start a Fire”, however, you can throw your preconceived notions out the window. The album is not what someone would expect from a rock band out of the South. Any theories I had based on the cover of the album were destroyed within the first 20 seconds of the opening track, “We Roll”. It begins with some keys and then goes into a lead riff with fist-pumping bass and drums to set the mood. The vocals tell us, “just like the tide, we roll”. Like many musicians, these guys find solace in places that most cannot. They are ramblin’, rolling stones who need to keep searching, so they must roll; a theme that many of us can relate to. The attention to production helps to expand the voice that the band has, creating multiple layers that are hard to catch with a quick listen. There is more than meets the eye to these songs. “We Roll” is a great opener and it sets the mood for the rest of the album.
“Rebel” is the next track, promoting not the Southern “rebel” spirit, but more being comfortable in ones skin, not being afraid to be labeled as “different” or “a rebel”. On this track we do hear a little banjo, a “Lord have mercy” some guitar shred and the celebration of the life that they have chosen to lead. They are not claiming to be rebels, but they are just fine with the title. Guitarist Seth Trimble shows off his lead chops on this one while vocalist Eric Boatright demonstrates why he should be taken seriously, not only on this track but throughout the entirety of the album.
Track three is the Styx cover of “Renegade”, which we already noted that Tommy Shaw digs, so we don’t need much more validation than that. Check it out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.
My personal favorite song on the album, “Fight or Flight”, is the track that allows everyone to show off their talents. The themes throughout the release are very relatable, things that we all think about on a daily basis. Fight or flight may not always be life or death, but it is something we all experience. Shallow Side has tapped into that, making a very universally-themed album that anyone can groove to. There is a blend of Southern- and classic rock-feel with a fresh approach to sound. This has been grown and loved, a nurtured album. Classic/Southern rock has been copied so many times since it’s heyday, but Shallow Side gives this decades-old tradition a flair of their own while maintaining the integrity of the music.
As the album continues with “Can You Hear Me” I realized that not only does Eric have a killer voice, but he is also extremely savvy at making lyrics fit where they shouldn’t. When words are used simply as a means to an end, they don’t always paint us the entire picture. Eric articulates very well, he makes it sound right and expresses the meaning of his words. Not all bands do this; some get lazy and don’t push themselves to do it right. Shallow Side will surprise you. “Start a Fire” is testament to their production attention. The verses have so many layers, giving great depth to the song. New music should always be listened to more than once. Think of it like watching a movie for the second time, catching something we didn’t see before. This album is proof that you need to look deeper. The surface is great, but look further and you’ll be amazed.
Shallow Side kicks off a North American tour in February, check their Facebook page to see if they are coming to your town. If you want energetic rock with some soul to it, give these guys a look on their Facebook page, Twitter page, their website and their YouTube channel. I look forward to seeing them when they come to my area. Stay tuned, there is more to come with these guys. Their trajectory is such that if they are not in your town this tour cycle, they will be soon. Keep rocking out there!