Words by Bryan Crawford

John Shannon’s hauntingly beautiful alto tone subtly soars on his sophomore release, Songs of the Desert River. The entire album is filled with occasionally odd-meter compositions that float over Kotke-esque classical acoustic stylings – beautiful while not too busy – and even a few French horn embellishments (personal favorite).

The eponymous track ‘Desert River’ begins as most do, with a modal progression of layered 16th note finger-picking. The cascading movement takes a backseat to Shannon’s mystical poetry: “I can feel it, like a river inside, to the ocean, the places we hide, in the distance from the mountain you see, all the places that you’ve ever been.”

Tracks like “Spirits On The Same Train” follow a similar formula, but describe a different dream-scene, which allows the album to maintain momentum while evoking the same set of emotions. One begins to understand that the album is a journey of personal discovery. It’s a calm provocation; a scene of introspection. And, as it turns out, that’s not some contrivance of deeper meaning – Shannon’s wind and river references repeated throughout the album are indeed inspired by his trips into the deserts of the Southwest. He’s a self-proclaimed “song-seeker,” who says his songs are “the focal point of an all-encompassing journey into a multi-dimensional psyche and wide-open heart.”

Bottom line – there’s a time and a place for everything. The sound of the sonnets on Shannon’s album is the perfect complement to a slow morning and your favorite French press. Buy, and enjoy the unwind. It’s impossible not to.

John Shannon & The Wings of Sound
“Songs of the Desert River”
Obliqsound Recordings
© June 14th, 2011



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