For You Now
For You Now is available at:
10th March, 2016
The E.P. Signals can be pre-ordered via:
Starts to Grow
For You Now
Sick & Tired
IT is a sad fact of the modern music world that…
few artists will endure. I wonder how many (of today’s musicians) will be around for years to come. It seems like an odd opener but there is a truth: Music has so much disposability that few acts are going to be around in future years. Every week, there is a gamut of new bands/acts emerging, all crisp, new and promising. When you look into the future, you ask yourself: How many of these artists will I be hearing down the road? I am not sure what it is about music- that leads to so few long-term artists- but demands change and the scene is packed and crowded. I suppose it an inevitability- that this trend has emerged- but the problem is: Who are going to be the mainstream stars throughout 2017 and beyond? If you scan what is already out there (in the mainstream) there are a few planted and assured artists: By-and-large, you have a lot of one-off/short-term acts that seem incapable of holding any fascination. Part of this issue- the brevity and fly-by-night music- is due to lack of originality and focus. Once in a while, you get an artist who you hope will overcome the trappings and go the distance. My featured artist is a London-based musician who is building reputation and acclaim. I earnestly hope Shan will be around for many years- there’s no reason to doubt that- because he is one of a few acts that thinks outside the box. The upcoming Signals (E.P.) took two years to produce: Shan wanted to capture something raw and honest; analogue equipment was used to capture the songs. I feel like musicians are pressured into getting their music out there instantly: If not, there will be few ears turned their way. With so much variety and music out there: If you are not among the throng; will people lend their support (when the music arrives)? Shan has crafted an E.P. that shows so much effort, passion and originality. Too many modern artists produce polished and ultra-modern records: They are very of-the-moment and do not put your mind back to a golden time. What Shan has done- throughput Signals– is balance modern ideas with production values that have their heart in decades past. If you want to ensure and become a mainstream act- which is the intention of most artists- then you need to be doing things differently. It is no good just coming in and sounding just like everyone else: Going that extra mile is a great way to have your music spread and reviewed. I would like to see/hear more about Shan: His social media pages have few biographical details and I could not find an official page. With a Google-unfriendly name- ‘Shan’ has A LOT of results- there needs to be some better visibility across social media. I know Shan is under the charge of Brick (a London-based P.R. company) and it would be good to see all the social media links- Twitter, Facebook etc.- in one place- at the moment, you have to search one-by-one. In that respect, it would be great to hear more about the man behind the music. It is great (Shan’s songs) do the talking and fill gaps: Some background information and personal details- influences and favourite acts- would bring more people in and more accessible. In an age where there is TOO much competition and little market-share: You need to be a bit more transparent and less restrictive: A few lines across social media are not quite good enough. These are minor quibbles- I hope this get sorted out soon- but gladly the music makes up for some short fallings. Many of the artists proffered by B.B.C. – in their end-of-year polls- have that shiny and modern sound at their disposal. You can tell these musicians are futuristic and right in the moment. Shan is certainly no relic of a past age: He understands the importance of raw sounds and stripping things back. Depressingly, the general consensus- when it comes to production sounds- errs on the side of polished and sleek. That is good- you need professionalism and shine- but how many musician take chances and are bold?! There is timidity and riskless-ness emerging that is rather upsetting and infuriating. It seems there is a new band arriving- by the week normally- that sound the same and could have been recorded in the same studio. As a result, the music will not linger in the mind and you go looking elsewhere.
Shan has taken the trouble to put heart and sweat into music that brims and exudes: There’s a subtleness and softness among the emotions and flow. It is rather hard to pin/define Shan- he is described as an ‘Indie’ artists- but that is perhaps a good thing. One of the more promising and exciting solo artists emerging from the U.K.: I cannot wait to see where the young Londoner goes in 2016. I am left a bit cold by some of the ‘celebrated’ acts of music- the media put into the spotlight- yet Shan is someone who defies convention and ACTUALLY impresses. Before I get down to assessing Shan- as he is an Indie artist- it is worth looking at the best Indie artists on the scene. Last year was a bumper one for Wolf Alice: A terrific young band that was denied a Mercury’ win (against the odds, somewhat) and define what the genre is about. Black Honey- a Brighton-formed band whose best days are ahead- are an exhilarating band to watch closely. The Bohicas have Post-Punk strands and have been linked with The Strokes and The Kinks. The Carnarbys- perhaps the most promising acts of all- hail from London and mix confessional lyrics with hard-hitting rhythms. Throw in Superfood- a Birmingham quartet with a definite love of ‘Britpop’- and you have another band that looks set to make waves. To be honest, there are a lot of promising Indie acts coming through right now. In terms of London solo artists- that are defined as ‘Indie’- there are perhaps fewer options- Shan is in illustrious company. The Indie genre is one of the most mobile and open-ended- you can mix Punk, Folk and Rock into the agenda- and as such, critics focus a lot of time (on these artists). Shan crosses genres and borders, yet at the heart of things, you have a man who matches heart and soul alongside something edgy and pressing. For You Now has just been dropped and is a tantilsing insight into Signals: An E.P. that will get mouths watering and critics raving.
For You Now begins with a soulful touch that you might not expect. Percussion and piano crash like waves: The opening seconds have such a gentility and swooning passion to them. The listener is instantly engaged and fascinated: That introduction is both instantly appealing and slow-burning. When you detect flickers of strings- a thing a lot of Indie artists do- I get embers of Wild Beasts coming through. Perhaps more directly related to their Smother/Present Tense work: That same quality and sensation sparks from the speakers. That said, Wild Beasts never penned an introduction that married so many different emotions and possibilities together. By blending ‘00s-modern day Indie with ‘70s Soul: You have a lethal combination that infuses the brain and mind in a wonderful seduction. After the promise of the opening seconds, our hero comes to the microphone. Things need to “sink in” it seems. Our man needs to say “what’s within” and there appears to be definite tension and struggle early on. “You”- maybe a heroine or friend of Shan- is “barely breathing”: Pressure needs to be released so this moment can sink in. As he does with compositions/introductions: The lyrics have so many possibilities and layers to them. Oblique yet direct; it is hard to say what inspired these early words. Maybe bad news has been delivered or truths have been realised: The two are revealing themselves and letting their honest come to the surface.
Perhaps a break-up has occurred or- by stark contrast- they are coming together in love. I always love to investigate lyrics and dig beneath the words. Shan has a real flair for language so it’s no surprise For You Now packs such a punch. Shan asks- his heroine or subject- “Why did you come here alone?” with elongated tones and multi-layered vocals. There is a real urgency to that line- in spite of the relaxed delivery- that requires explanation and answers. With every new line, I start to think of new possibilities and ideas (with regards the truth of the lyrics). Maybe it is not about a break-up but something more hopeful. It is clear there is a sense of loss and distance throughout the song. The girl is somewhere else- or has moved on- and our hero is pining and yearning for days past. Things are better when she is around: It seems like something has happened to break them apart. Maybe the song is based on real events- a period of Shan’s life- and the vocal conviction makes sure every word drips with emotion and meaning. After the rather introspective and haunted openings: The song becomes more light-seeking as the seconds tick. Whilst the girl “sits in silence”- to let the feeling reach her soul- there is that need to hold onto moments. Our boy looks back at times (when the two were together) and seems to be a need to revert to better days. As the song progresses, new compositional elements are brought in. A fiery (yet understated) guitar adds vigour and shiver alongside percussion and acoustic. The girl’s “black sky” is being penetrated by dreamy blue eyes. Maybe Shan is standing aside- and looking at other’s engage and unfold- and recalling the events. It is impressive if you can pen a song that seems universal yet personal. The lyrics of For You Now have their direct moments- raw lines that leave little to the imagination- but the entire piece has some mystery and shrouded mystique. You are never clear whether Shan himself is being mentioned- or whether the song regards a friend/friends- and that adds to the anticipation and intrigue. I have listened to the song several times and find new meanings- or perhaps some misdirection- coming in that changes my impressions. Perhaps only Shan will know- what has influenced the song- but it is great to speculate and conspire. The composition is among the most impressive he has come up with.
If you look into Signals more- when the E.P. is released- you will see that diversity and talent fully exploited. For You Now changes course and introduces so many ideas. From those soft and tender moments (in the introduction) you get rush and energy: For You Now grows and develops into something full-bodied and impassioned. Our hero has one of the most original voices in music- I could not find a direct sound-alike- and showcases so much depth, emotion and soul into his performance. To be honest, For You Now is a triumph on fronts. Whilst it might not hit you immediately: You need to listen a few times to ensure the song reveals all its charms and secrets. Signals is an E.P. that shows many sides and ideas- whilst keeping a core identity and sound- and Shan is among the most talented musicians working today. The fact Signals took two years to complete is no sign or nerves or procrastination: The workmanship and attention have led to songs that will win over everyone. There are no in-it-for-the-money motifs behind the music: Shan wants to remain in music for years and win as many fans as possible. An honest musician that prides quality over quantity- with regards throwing songs out too quickly- make sure you give For You Now a good listen- you will not regret it.
Over the years, Shan has been a very busy man. Not just confined to solo endeavours: He is worked with Ghetts (on the Grime artist’s M.O.B.O.-nominated debut, Rebel With a Cause) and promising up-comer, Matt Woods. Everyone from the B.B.C. to Balcony T.V. has latched onto Shan and the sensational music he is producing. Here is a man who is restless and always keen to work with others. That is not to say his solo material lacks focus and due attention: If anything, time spent with other artists has made his music more rounded and compelling. I am not too sure what is in store for the London wonder. I guess I have been harsh- in opening the review- towards artists coming out today. It is a hard and unforgiving industry to step into: Music requires total commitment, dedication and focus. I am just a little vexed by the surfeit of long-lasting musicians: We are seeing very few that remains around and keep producing albums/E.P.s. I often get excited by a particular act/band and look forward to following them closely. When a new year arrives, said artist has disappeared on gone on hiatus. Maybe there is too much pressure and that need to keep putting music out. As a result, the music being produced lacks real quality, depth and originality.
We shall see how things progress this year- whether any of the tipped artists actually make an impression- but it is great discovering a musician that has a different way of working. Shan certainly has no intention of resigning and slowing down anytime soon. With every song, you hear a young man who puts his all into every single note. It is hard to compare him with any other act- a rare feat to be honest! – and I can see him going to big things in a couple of years. Waypoint– the 2013 debut from Shan- was released to applause and attention. That emotion, energy and substance were evident from the very start. Growing in confidence and stature: Ensuing releases have demonstrated evolution and a lot of progress. Shan keeps getting stronger and more settled: Here is a musician that was made to play and perform. Perhaps the collaborations and hook-ups- from Ghetts to Matt Woods- have helped Shan. Whatever the formula (and secret ingredient) behind the success, it is pleasing to find an artist who could actually endure and succeed. I shall not put too much pressure on him, only to advise an official site be launched- maybe there is one, but I could not find it. With such a ‘common’ name- one that is hard to pinpoint in search engines- it would be good to see a central hub for Shan. To that end; ALL the social media/music links need to go together (on Facebook, ideally) so it is easier to follow him. One of the biggest follies- new musicians tend to show- is being a little lackluster with personal details and the social media side. I know Shan has a great (and reputable) P.R. company behind him: It would be nice knowing more about Shan and what drives him; who influences his music and having little interview tidbits. When you get a fuller impression; that will lead to a larger following and tangibility. If you make musicians accessible- but not too open and revealing- it really adds to the musical experience. I listen to Shan and love the music I hear: I would just like to know what inspired certain songs; which bands/acts compelled the writing. Perhaps a bugbear that is reserved to me alone- maybe I am being a bit picky- it is, at least, refreshing discovering a musician who brings raw, lo-fi music to the fore. Shan’s music has a lovely sparsity to it without being too naked and unfocused. You get modern touches and themes- with regards the lyrics and genre-fuse- but the abiding sound evokes something vintage and bygone- something sadly forgotten in today’s music.
Starts to Grow has a grittiness and rush to it: The song has a constant energy and many different layers to it. The vocals snatch and mix in the opening exchanges. Just then, the composition comes in with huge electronics and ideas: An elongated monster that suddenly rises from the sea. Working echoed vocals into the ensuing silence: You have a song that takes you surprise and elicits chills and smiles in equal measures. Delicate and dizzying guitars- both electric and acoustic- bring grace and pace together in a wonderful bond. The song looks at our man being stung and disappointed. A central heroine has left their marks and feelings start to grow. A lot of the lyrics have an oblique edge to them- the meanings are open to interpretation- so every listener might have a different view. What hooks you most is the combination of vocal and composition. That voice remains graveled and passionate- more U.S. than U.K. when it comes to tone- whilst the music keeps diving, growing and bursting. You never quite know where the composition will go next: A sensational thing that takes the breath.
Taken begins with delicate and delicious electronics: These lead to some echoed/machine-fed vocals that juxtapose the composition. Soon enough you are inside a juddering and propulsive beat that welcomes in a more open and clear vocal. Little strings vibrate and strike wantonly- adding to that colourfulness and passion- whilst our man lets his emotions pour forth. Evocative and atmospheric lyrics- feelings and figures sinking under “the blue abyss”- make the imagination and mind race. As you try and deconstruct the lyrics- our man behind dragged into the depths- the composition takes the mind elsewhere. Always kinetic, pulsating and vivid: The beats crackle whilst bass and guitar marry together in an intoxicating cocktail. You can tell how much detail has been put into the song and its composition. Lesser artists just toss notes and ideas together- hoping they will coalesce- whereas craft and obsession can be found in Taken. This leads to a song that explodes with life, danger; energy and candour.
N.O.N.T.K. – not sure what the acronym stands for- begins with lo-fi curiosity and faded sounds. The track builds and develops from humble beginnings. Darting strings and excitable bursts put me in mind of mid-‘90s Radiohead- you get suggestions of The Bends– whilst the vocal is among the E.P.’s most promising and positive. In terms of composition, there is no demure or modesty at all. Everything is just as connective and impressive as before: Shan changes direction and brings a Hard-Rock flavor into the E.P. N.O.N.T.K. is one of the more straight-forward/accessible songs across Signals. Our hero is not being cautious and lost in smoke and mirrors. There is a lot of anxiety and accusation that emerges from the song. A devious subject has caused some hurt: Our man is left to clear the dust and make sense of things. Whether talking about a sweetheart or friend- not sure if this is a relationship or friendship story- Shan will stand tall and stay loyal. You get a mix of lyrical ideas- sticking by someone who has done wrong; angry at the lies that have been told- and the composition adds electricity and oomph. One of the catchiest and most memorable tracks from Signals: It shows how diverse and varied Shan is.
Sick & Tired brings things to a close and is perhaps the most emotive tracks on the E.P. Shan lets his voice reveal its soul. The composition remains fairly light- in the opening stages- ensuring the voice framed. Soon enough, the volume rises and the layers are put into the song. The strings are impressively considered and nuanced. Our hero is in the here and now and is not “giving up”. His friends have been dating one another- a sad conveyor belt of predictable ends- with fatigue and annoyance at the core. In spite of this, the song has a celebratory and redemptive tone: The instrumentation becomes fast and furious; the passion and commitment reach fever pitch. Like N.O.N.T.K., Sick & Tired is one of the Rock-inspired numbers that will have mainstream appeal and festival readiness. You can hear a few Indie bands- bits of Foo Fighters and other U.S. artists- in some moments which mean (the song) could have radio values and mass appeal. It is not a cynical move- just another side to Shan’s musicality and talent- and it brings the E.P. to a triumphant close.
If you have not heard Shan and are not properly prepared for Signals– take a look back at the previous releases- then make sure you get on it. Signals is a move away from Shan’s previous work- Waypoint is the best example- and shows boldness and confidence that is hard to ignore. Whilst Waypoint showed immense talent and originality: Signals is a step forward and expands upon that initial promise. On 18th April, Signals arrives and will be met with acclaim and love. Ensure you do not miss out as it (Signals) is a stunning statement that shows real intent and diversity. One of the U.K.’s most promising and stunning acts: I cannot wait to see where Shan goes from here. In a music world with too many throw-away- musicians that fade from view after a while- it is refreshing knowing Shan…
HAS plenty of years left in him.