Louisville Kentucky sits atop the southern belt, nestled next to the southern Midwest hip. Drawing influence from both regions must be why Louisville native Cary Shields and his new EP, Radio’s Playin stand out. Cary’s a self-described drummer, songwriter, singer and storyteller. I would add to that list “music appreciation zealot” because his new EP borrows cues from various eras and singers. No time is wasted on his new EP, from the first song to the last, the songwriting shines. There will be no need to push the skip button on this musical adventure. Now, let’s get down to business.
Listen to “Run Rabbit” Here
Upon arrival, the opening single “Run Rabbit” takes us off with an upbeat plucked acoustic ditty. Adding steam are the percussion accents. Light snare hits merge in just right. Tambourine glory captures the high swing in the chorus, but the bands not done. In the second verse the plucked guitar keeps the tambourine’s momentum, shifting into overdrive. Cary lays back and lets the music do the talking. He expertly feathers the lyrical throttle enough to keep the proverbial tires spinning. A great opening song.
That aforementioned swing carries over to the next track “In The Morning” and it feels so good. There’s a southern rock and country quality to the single. Lynard Skynrad and “Sweet Home Alabama” come to mind. With this southern country rock vibe “Capers And Wine” keep us engaged but slowly our listening experience begins to shift to another direction.
By the time “Radio’s Playin” comes on we are set in a different course. This song has big time radio appeal in my opinion. With a smooth delivery and big round notes the melody soothes my heart. The lyrics accentuate that nostalgic bliss a wonderful memory evokes. In the track, Cary alerts the family “their song” is beginning to play on the radio. I picture a family getting ready for dinner, placing silverware on the table while the radio plays. Creating a memory forever tying a song to family, a friend, a moment in time. “Just let that radio play” – Cary Shields.
What more appropriate way to close out a listening voyage than with a harmonica. “Peaceful Hum” with its harmonica lead truly are the perfect night cap. More important are the impact the lyrics bring. Cary beautifully describes a moment where “love found meaning” amongst life’s chaos. A song about family, love, being together, staying together in dream and in reality. A fantastic subtle nuance is the guitar’s strumming technique providing the tempo the drums would otherwise add. The distorted guitar lead outro is a wonderful touch.
“Radio’s Playin” accomplishes a goal every EP/LP should, to don’t interrupt and let it play. While Cary plays with Americana sensibilities, he does borrow from some of music’s best. I wrote down while listening comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, Roy Orbison, Jack Johnson and John Mayer to name a few. The music carries a massive pop appeal but is played through an Americana filter of sorts. His phenomenal songwriting makes me feel like I’ve heard these song’s before but clearly I haven’t. What is offered with his new release is a complete package where talent, creativity and experience all came together as if dictated by fate. Listen through from start to finish, and please, don’t skip a song.