Shannon & The Clams Share Love and Grief in New Album

Anyone who has experienced grief at the death of a close loved one knows the juxtaposition of the pain of loss with the eventually beautiful sentiment of having existed at the same time as that person. Shannon & The Clams has managed to encapsulate this oddly specific yet universal feeling in their latest album The Moon Is In The Wrong Place. When Shannon Shaw lost her fiancée Joe Haener just weeks before their wedding, she was open and raw on her social media, sharing her experiences with grief, offering memories the two had built together and the future they planned. These memories became the foundation for songs on the album. The result is a beautiful tribute album to someone that many of us never knew, but now wish we did.

Without knowing the story of Shaw’s life since August 2022, The Moon Is In The Wrong Place may seem like a poetic collection of punky retro soul songs, much like the band’s last three albums. It is accessible on several levels. Longtime Shannon & The Clams fans will feel comfortable in the familiar tones and quirky songwriting. New fans will find catchy singles to ease into the oddball mashup of styles. But beyond any of that, this album offers a deep connection to the artist. Raw, soulful, and tear-jerking lyrics send sensations up your spine when you fully internalize them.

The album kicks off with an upbeat exclamation of joy at the possibilities of the future in “The Vow.” While it doesn’t always maintain this upbeat sentiment, Shaw never dives to the depths of sadness she reasonably could. There is always an air of beauty and love, even when the tears flow. The title track presents a massive, rhythmic, cosmic sonic experience. Added percussion, organ, and other unconventional accents bring the songs to life and show off the songwriting style that has set The Clams apart from other acts rooted in lo-fi garage rock.

The subject matter likely also explains why vocal duty fell heavily on Shaw’s raspy doo-wop influenced crooning, while on previous albums this was shared evenly between Shaw and guitarist Cody Blanchard. The rhythm of songs throughout the album throw back to some of the band’s earlier releases, with minor chaos taking the place of the ballads of recent albums. Songs like “The Hourglass” and “Dali’s Clock” feature R&B tinged vocal harmonies over punky rhythms that would fit in on Dreams of the Rat House.

The album’s singles “Bean Fields”, “Real or Magic”, “The Moon Is In The Wrong Place”, and “Big Wheel” are beautifully catchy sentimental songs that can easily be enjoyed alone or as pieces to a bigger story. The album culminates with a trio of songs that work together to hit the listener deep. The acoustic track “In The Grass” marks a sharp change of tone. The penultimate “Golden Brown” creates a sentimental swim through a river of longing and tears. Finally, “Life is Unfair” takes a blunt, righteous lyrical approach to the anger and hurt that accompanies grief, and wraps up the sentiment of the album in the straightforward line “life is unfair, yet beautiful only because you were here.”

It is rare that a piece of art comes along that can be so deeply personal yet fully relatable to an audience with no personal connection to the subject. This album absolutely fits with the rest of Shannon & the Clams’ discography. This is sort of a concept album that doesn’t have to be enjoyed in just that context. Music is one of the more effective ways to fully convey emotion. The Moon Is In The Wrong Place is a full on emotional experience, but with equal parts beauty to accompany the ache.

The Moon Is In The Wrong Place is out on Easy Eye Records

Cover photo by Jim Herrington

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