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Shannon Lay

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Shannon Lay with John Andrews & the Yawns

 

Shannon Lay

Geist feels like a window – or a mirror – into possibilities of the self and beyond. Shannon Lay’s new album is tender intensity, placeless and ethereal.  It exists in the chasms of the present — a world populated by shadow selves, spiritual awakenings, déjà vu, and past lives.

“Something sleeps inside us,” Lay insists on the opening track, and that’s the guiding philosophy throughout. A winding, golden, delicate thread of intuition that explores the unknown, the possibility. Its title, Geist, the German word for spirit, is rife with an otherworldly presence, the suggestion of another. The promise that you are never alone.

Lay tracked vocals and guitar at Jarvis Tavinere of Woods’s studio, then sent the songs out to multi-instrumentalists Ben Boye (Bonnie Prince Billy, Ty Segall) in Los Angeles and Devin Hoff (Sharon Van Etten, Cibo Matto) in New York; trusting their musical instincts and intuition. She then sent those recordings to Sofia Arreguin (Wand) and Aaron Otheim (Heatwarmer, Mega Bog) for additional keys, while Ty Segall contributed a guitar solo on “Shores.”

As a whole, Geist is both esoteric and accessible. There’s the concise, pared-back cover of Syd Barrett’s tilt-a-whirl-esque “Late Night,” while “Rare to Wake,” inspired by Dune, is existential and meditative, a circular guitar riff looping at the core of it.  “Awaken and Allow,” is ancient-feeling and mainly a cappella, its melody channels her deep Irish roots, a moment of reflection, before a drop happens — its intensity mirroring the anticipation and anxiety that come with taking the first step to accepting change for yourself.

“Time’s Arrow,” with its refrain of heading downhill, was inspired by something a close friend said. Lay notes: “I wanted ‘Time’s Arrow’ to be this gentle reminder that we’re on our way, and we’re moving forward.  There is medicine in every moment so don’t rush.”

“Thread to Find,” which Lay wrote after walking into an old hotel in Switzerland and being struck by the feeling like she’d been there before, is a testament to the energy we leave behind and stumble across.

And the title track “Geist,” a song about the power living in all of us, is a love song to the possibility of healing, an ode to falling into the arms of what you’re becoming. It’s a glimpse into the parts of yourself you have yet to meet. But you can, if you want to.

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John Andrews & the Yawns

New Jersey-born multi-instrumentalist John Andrews worked with several bands before stepping out on his own with solo project John Andrews & the Yawns — “the Yawns” being a fictional backing band at first, as Andrews played all the instruments on his debut. Andrews always worked on solo compositions, but notably contributed drums to indie act  and organ/keyboards to fuzzy folk-rockers . Being a full-time member of both these bands made it difficult to find time and space to complete his own recordings. Andrews began work on a debut album in 2013 when living in the remote Amish country of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Over the next several months, Andrews eventually decamped to his grandparents’ New Jersey home, where he set up in their vacant living room and re-recorded the warm, -informed roots pop songs that made up his 2015 debut, Bit by the Fang, which saw release on the  label. After relocating to a Colonial farmhouse in the woodland of Barrington, New Hampshire with musician friends, he went to work on his second album. Recorded on the property with housemates including Rachel Neveu of , and Lukas Goudreault and Joey Schneider of Soft Eyes, Bad Posture followed with more rootsy psych-pop in 2017. ~ Fred Thomas, Rovi

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