With the uncanny ability to reach the depths of your core by way of their Funk, Soul & Blues fusion, Shaws of Awe fervently delivers this truth with the release of their full-length album Shawtzee. When asked about the convivial yet fitting title, the band said it was initially thrown out as a joke of sorts but ended up being the name that stuck. Mainly due to the fact that you can always find members of the band somewhere playing Yahtzee. The divine navigation of the universe could not have found a more felicitous word to describe Shawtzee’s seven tracks.
Recorded at 5th Street Studios in Austin on a 60’s reel-to-reel and mastered at Yellow Dog Studios, Shawtzee serves up a delicious and textured musical journey in a warm vintage sound. With long-standing roots in the Texas Hill Country, this seven-piece outfit is made up of Luis Aran (lead vocals), Andy Fulton (keys, guitar, vocals), Johnny Storbeck (guitar) Casey Newell (bass), Payden Price (bass, on the album), Ben Slade (drums), Henry Hogensen (percussion), and Joe Segovia (second bass, percussion, vocals). Celebrate the release in Austin, Texas, at the historic Antone’s Nightclub with Big Wy’s Brass Band as support.
Immediately off the bat, Speedballin’ rips straight to the heart of Blues-Rock and Soul. Through a filter of a wailing guitar, a layered array of organs and synth, and lead vocalist Luis Aran’s soulful storytelling, each distinct instrument produces an undeniably well-defined harmony. The song presents a heartbreaking tale of the fragile balancing act of life’s highs and lows paired with the woes of miscalculated love. It is highly unlikely you will ever hear Speedballin’ sound as appealing as Shaws makes it sound.
A hook-line and sinker of a funky bass line opens Lookie Here, quickly coupled with a continuation of organ and synth calculation before a takeover of sultry vocals. The tightness of the rhythm section sets the ultimate tone into a state of pure groove – with lyrics devoted to the all-too-familiar feeling of music’s power to intersect unseen energetic fields and its inherently sensual nature. Carried along the crests of the soulful seas, the band quiets for a rhythm breakdown before some classic crowd-talk hype – just like something out of the mid-seventies.
Funk-fusion to make you move and groove, Mind So Free explores the textured wormholes of jam with a heavy load of distorted fretless bass merriment and some filter and pedal play on guitar. The lyrical message resonates strongly with this one – themes of freedom, expression, and taking the trust fall into living fully.
While keeping in line with the same infectious groove, Candy Glove takes a wonderfully weird turn into Santana-esque guitar playing along with a theatrical tale of delightful temptation. While the story should come with a “don’t take candy from strangers” warning, the song takes a deeper turn just after the halfway point. A world-fusion beat between drummers engulfs the field, while Storbeck lightly wails and the keys slowly cascade the group into a full-blown 90-second plus jam with Luis’ strong-willed vocal range topping it off.
Harry Brown brings the vibe back down with its light-hearted, feel-good manner. Assumingly not to be confused with Michael Caine’s character in the 2009 movie, this quirky tune reminds us of the familiar, yet horrendous guy in the crowd on the Sunday of a three-day festival, who you just can’t help but hate to love.
Next up is Bad Lieutenant, which was in fact inspired by the re-make of the original movie with the same name starring Nicholas Cage as a crooked cop in New Orleans. This no-holds-barred number could be dubbed “the social justice banger of the album,” with impeccable musicianship displayed through the feverish deliverance of desperate change and reform needed in today’s world.
A tried-and-true Texas closer, Johnny Law brings another reference to law enforcement, this time unveiling the story about a time the band drove down to San Antone (San Antonio) for a show. A finger-pluckin’ narrative with solely guitar and vocals, this gritty and raw breakdown generates the final effort to fully encapsulate the last roll of the Shawtzee dice.
To discover the magic of the Shaws of Awe for yourself, stream, purchase, support, and learn more about them on all major platforms.