Shelby Earl: Burn the Boats

Shelby Earl
Burn the Boats
(Local 638)

You really have to respect a musician who would quit their secure, corporate music job which brought in a nice paycheck in favor of going do-it-yourself singer-songwriter all for their own music.

That’s exactly what Seattle-native Shelby Earl did. She left the big world of music, took a job as a waitress and worked on her own songs. It was risky, but has paid off with her fantastic debut Burn the Boats released Local 638 Records,

The album, which was produced by John Roderick of The Long Winters, features 11 songs based in indie folk and rock. Earl’s strong point is her ability to write lyrics which touch on themes reclaiming yourself, grasping for things just out of reach and loves lost along the ways of life.

Burn the Boats opens with “22 (You’ve Got Me Undone)” which has Earl singing about a boy she is sweet on. When she opens the chorus with “your words, they wrap around me” you can help but feel a little bit of Patsy Cline in her soul. The same could be said for the beautiful lyrics and musically sparse “Everyone Belongs to Someone” and “Smoke Goes Clearing.” The haunting and atmospheric “Made of Sand” finds the singer baring her inner most thoughts hoping the one she is calling out to will hear her.

Musically Earl is backed by members of the Long Winters, Telekinesis, the Maldives, (former) Fleet Foxes, the Head and the Heart, and more. The acoustic instruments provide the perfect laid back sound which fits Earl’s vocals and mood of Burn the Boats.

Shelby Earl isn’t breaking any new ground here, but that’s perfectly fine because what she is doing is playing beautiful well-crafted songs with honest songwriting. Singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen these days and it takes a lot for an artist to stand out from the crowd. Shelby Earl has what it takes, not only to stand out but to become one of the leaders of the pack.