Last year, Old Boy’s Shawn Brewster and Shelby Lynn Sangdahl started up a band they christened Shawn & Shelby as an outlet for the songs that didn’t quite fit with Brewster's indie rock act Old Boy. The group released an EP and regularly gigged around town.
Now, the group is back with Stay With Me Lover
, a nuanced collection of fragile tunes that sound like they could be from the Once
soundtrack. The group plays a release party on May 14 at the Beachland Tavern
The sparse ballad “Stay With Me Lover” features soft vocals and acoustic guitar and suggests the album's contemplative nature.
“Because I’ve played with her for so long, I had a grip on what I could do and could tailor the writing for us," says Brewster. "That’s the majority of the songs. There are two other songs that I wote a long time ago but hadn’t done anything with. They worked perfectly on the record. The song ‘Carry Me Home,’ Shelby had written in high school. I wanted to record it, but it was contingent upon Shelby singing with me, which she did.”
They recorded again with local producer extraordinaire Jim Stewart.
“We’re really good friends,” says Brewster when asked about working with Stewart. “I talked with him for years about recording and he has a new space. The first time we recorded with him, we just put microphones in a room and played live. This time, it’s all layered. We added some piano and some electric guitar to go with the acoustic guitar and cello. It’s a lot more full sounding and deliberate.”
He says the band doesn’t take inspiration from any one source.
“I can sit down and write a song that’s six and a half minutes long because I don’t have to worry about radio play,” he says. “You have college radio and oWow, which are both great. I don’t have to write four-minute pop songs. I just sit down and write a song and where it goes, it goes. I stay away from listening to a lot of music during my writing process. When people say it sounds like something, that’s fine. I’m not trying to reinvent anything. They’re just folky songs.”
Since forming, the band has steadily found work. The simple approach makes it easy to set up and play a quick set.
“We walk up onstage and plug in and walk off and plug off," says Brewster. "There aren’t all these pieces and parts. We get to play these neat events for Spice and Lux. We were flown down to Texas for a corporate event. They like the intimacy and the mood of the music. That’s why I like it too – it has great flexibility.”