Shae Fiol - Catch A Ride (2009)

Shae Fiol
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I am a YouTube junkie. Certifiably addicted to the website. I'm just glad the Internet wasn't available to the public in the 1980s. Because if it was, I'd still be living in my mother's house looking at old Earth, Wind & Fire videos and watching Saturday Night Live clips. Since I'm all grown up, I'm disciplined enough to pull myself away from YouTube long enough to get some work done. As a matter of fact, YouTube videos often come in handy when I have to review work by an artist with whom I am unfamiliar. Shae Fiol is such an artist. Often people post videos of artists such as Fiol performing live in concert. The audio might not be the best and the visuals sometimes give amateurish a good name. However, when the video is decent, these YouTube postings are a way to learn if these performers sound as good live as they do in the studio.

I am a YouTube junkie. Certifiably addicted to the website. I'm just glad the Internet wasn't available to the public in the 1980s. Because if it was, I'd still be living in my mother's house looking at old Earth, Wind & Fire videos and watching Saturday Night Live clips. Since I'm all grown up, I'm disciplined enough to pull myself away from YouTube long enough to get some work done. As a matter of fact, YouTube videos often come in handy when I have to review work by an artist with whom I am unfamiliar. Shae Fiol is such an artist. Often people post videos of artists such as Fiol performing live in concert. The audio might not be the best and the visuals sometimes give amateurish a good name. However, when the video is decent, these YouTube postings are a way to learn if these performers sound as good live as they do in the studio.

By the time I got around to checking out the many videos that fans have posted of the Portland, Oregon native, I had listened to Catch a Ride long enough to realize that the singer, guitarist and songwriter sounds pretty good on the record. However, YouTube still had something to teach me about Fiol.

There was a video of Fiol playing an acoustic guitar version of "Let Down," one of the standout songs on this very good record, while standing on a street corner in Bed-Stuy (Fiol has since relocated to New York). You can hear cars with radios blaring and buses that stopped long enough to drop off and pick up passengers before driving off. The viewer hears it all, and so - I must assume - does Fiol. However, she does not betray the slightest bit of distraction, and after a while I was toning the noise pollution out and focusing solely on Fiol's vocals, lyricism and musicianship.

On Catch a Ride, there are no buses and cars with sound systems blaring to stand between Shae Fiol and her audience.  The first thing that listeners will notice is that Catch at Ride is an incredibly balanced record. There is a nice mix of mid-tempo tunes such as the aforementioned "Let Down," and the sensual "Embrace." Back to back ballads, pensive "A Woman's Presence" and jazzy "Lonely, Lovely," are followed by the socially relevant up-tempo song "It's Not Easy."

By time the listener gets to the electronica-funk jam "King," it becomes clear that Shae Fiol is not your average singer/songwriter with a guitar.  She is an artist who is equally adept at making her listeners lean in close to listen to her pained lyrics on "A Woman's Presence," and have them dancing in their seats while listening to "King."  And that is quite a combination. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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