REVIEW: The Whisper II

In their proper debut record, The Whisper II, Shoecraft puts out their most patient, complete, and masterful work to date.

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I’ve been a fan of Shoecraft since their House & Chapel demo, and it is beyond exciting to see some of the songs from that collection become fully realized in The Whisper II.  In the time since, the Snohomish folksters have  changed their lineup (now consisting of Jacob Baughman, Nate Main, Zach Thayer, and Rachel Casel).  They’ve moved past sparse, acoustic arrangements to a fuller, more atmospheric sound that hearkens to their live performances, and the tracklist includes some redone highlights from their unofficial debut EP Between the Waves as well as some House & Chapel cuts.

What’s most exciting about this album, though, is the elements of Shoecraft that haven’t changed.  The Whisper II is the album Shoecraft was meant to make.  No longer inhibited by limited access to gear and recording spaces, the sound of this record is lush, warm, and inviting.  Moods range from grand to intimate, sometimes even within a single song (“Jemimah Belle”).  Songs like “Sleepwalk” and “Gojibson” channel a full-band rock approach, contrasting more intimate and reflective pieces like the opening and closing tracks, “Cottonwood” and “Waiting.”

The lyrics to The Whisper II are thoughtful and earnest: a perfect companion to the welcoming nature of the record.  One clear lyrical standout from the album is “The Garden,” one of the band’s longest-standing tracks.  The song acknowledges impostors and “bad fruit” in Christianity and the struggles they can bring.  However, Shoecraft refuses to blame God for those problems, pleading for peace and still longing for a relationship with the divine.

The Whisper II feels like it was produced by seasoned musicians, despite it being a debut record from a band that hasn’t “officially” released any other material.  It feels like the musical and lyrical ideas have been marinating for a long time (probably because they have), and these ideas translate into a beautiful and pensive listening experience that was certainly worth the wait.  Shoecraft demonstrates an aesthetic maturity that demands attention, and The Whisper II is the pinnacle of their achievements.

Check out Shoecraft on Facebook, and be on the lookout for The Whisper II when it drops next week.  The band will be playing a release show this Sunday evening at A Chapel on Swan’s Trail in Snohomish, WA.  For more details, go here.

 

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