ShAnnie

Muses Muse

Shan Kowert and Annie Acton formed a duo back in 2005 and from the union of their name came the mystic band name of Shannie. After their debut cd in 2007, which received a nomination for Vocal Duo at the 2008 Texas Music Awards, they are now ready with a new album called “The station”. The production has been in the hands of John Inmon a well know producer and guitarist who poured his heart and creativity into this work. The sound of this 12 tracks cd is mainly acoustic and the queen of the scene is a 12 string acoustic guitar which paints the songs with grace and charm. Their style is folk with influences from country and pop music. The voice of Annie is clean and smooth, with a strong feeling of intimacy and passion. She sings every tune with a personal style made of caresses and hot kisses. It is a pleasure listening to her singing track by track. One track is sung by Shan who also demonstrates to be an excellent singer. The mood is romantic, there is a strong Latin influence in the writing of the songs. One track is in Spanish and Annie sings it beautifully. But there are also influences from the north, from the Celtic tradition. The lyrics and the atmospheres often become introspective and delicate. The only weakness in my ears is the sound of the album that I would have loved to be clearer. It is not a big issue anyway. This is one of those groups that you never get tired of listening to. I have played their cd many times and this does not happen very often. It is probably the perfect blend of Shan guitar and Annie voice that make the experience very pleasant.

MyTexasMusic.com

The sophomore release from this 2008 TMA nominated duo is nothing short of amazing. The opening cut features Annie Acton’s stellar vocals in a tune rivaling releases by Mary Chapin Carpenter from the early 90’s. The second track is no less outstanding as Acton turns on the Latin charm in “Esa Noche.” The title track is next, setting the tone for the album, and featuring flawless harmonies from the other half of this phenomenal duo, Shan Kowert. John Inmon makes his presence known in a big way on this cut with a dazzling musical performance. Inmon produces the album and is responsible for most of the instrumentation, performing multiple instruments. Acton blazes on through “Lipstick Warrior” and “Within Your Heart,” turning in great performances on both. Kowert emerges as lead vocalist on “Could It Be,” a comfortable shuffle that could easily fill a country dance floor. “Missing You” is a pretty lost-love lament that features more of Acton’s ethereal vocal work. Acton and Kowert turn in a clever piece of songwriting on “One Tank,” reducing the value of love to a tank of gas. Especially with so much required financially to obtain such, when one decides to get one tank further away, the prospect of turning back and reconciling becomes exponentially less likely. A nice concept for a song, and I’m sorry I didn’t think of it first. I listened to the next song three times and even though “Care” is a great tune and Acton’s performance is top-notch, I have to say, I didn’t really get it at first. I kept trying to make a connection in the lyrics that made sense to me. At the end of the song, the line “I just care for you” brought it all into focus. My take on the song is that there are so many things to care about out there, and she sees them alright, but passes them off as just mundane instances in life that carry no significant meaning for her. She doesn’t want to seem uncaring about the world’s troubles, but they pale in comparison with the level of care she has for him. Then, it made perfect sense. Ah, a love song. These two have a habit of doing love songs. Hmmm. No surprise there. That they do so many of them so well is the foundation of the art of ShAnnie. “Winds of Change” turns in another mesmerizing performance from Inmon and is the second Shan Kowert vocal feature. I know Shan and how he loves to showcase Annie’s voice, but he would owe no apologies for featuring himself on more cuts. “Driftin’ Lost Cowboy” is the first of two bonus tracks, a western swing shuffle that doubles as a tribute to Hank Williams. It wouldn’t be a stretch to offer it up as the most mainstream track of the album, and perhaps the most commercially viable. Fellow MTM member, John M. Greenberg also appears on the album, producing and performing on the wrap-up cut, “The Weatherman.” The project, a twelve-track gem, is just the next chapter of an exceptional career for ShAnnie. Folky at times, country at times, but comfortable the whole way, with tons of listener appeal. This is one of those discs you put in your player when you’re having guests over and everything has to be perfect.

Folk Bulletin

La canzone d’autore americana e in particolar modo quella texana nasconde spesso graditissime sorprese. Piccoli gioielli tutti da scoprire. E’ il caso di questo piccolo grande cd, una produzione artigianale, per certi versi quasi casalinga; che racchiude in sé splendidi tesori musicali che aspettano solo di essere portati alla luce. Gli ShAnnie sono un duo formato da Shan Kowert e Annie Acton. La somma e la contrazione dei loro due nomi di battesimo hanno dato vita non solo alla loro visione musicale, gli ShAnnie appunto, ma anche, dal 2005, a un progetto di vita comune. Le loro voci sembrano create per cantare insieme le meravigliose armonie che questo cd contiene. Nella vocalità di Shan ci sono reminiscenze di Gordon Lightfoot e Dan Folgerberg, due presenze fondamentali nella sua esperienza formativa; in quella di Annie nuances che sembrano appartenere a Patsy Cline, Allison Krauss, alla Linda Ronstadt più legata alle proprie radici latine; e a qualche oscura ma bravissima cantante irlandese. Tutte influenze che risiedono nel profondo dell’anima di Annie che ha origini sia messicane che celtiche. Tutto ciò viene esaltato nelle canzoni che la coppia scrive. Canzoni profonde, liriche, ispirate e piene di poesia. Canzoni che sembrano piccoli film. Canzoni che raccontano storie in cui ognuno di noi potrebbe riconoscere sé stesso. Difficile stabilire dove finiscano le corde della chitarra di Shan e dove cominci la dolcissima voce di Annie. Una voce angelica che sembra essere stata creata per toccare il cuore delle persone più sensibili. Il loro viaggio cominciato in un posto magico che si chiama Luckenbach, Texas, un luogo magico dove si è fatta buona parte della storia della musica d’autore texana, giunge con “The Station” ad un nuovo approdo. La produzione del disco è affidata a uno dei più bravi chitarristi di Austin: John Inmon un musicista di levatissima caratura che ha suonato con artisti del calibro di Jerry Jeff Walker, Townes Van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Omar and the Howlers, Bruce Robison, Pat Green e Michael Martin Murphy; solo per citare qualche nome. Inmon dimostra in questo lavoro di non essere solo un chitarrista dal tocco raffinato e personale ma anche un produttore di tutto rispetto. Il valente strumentista è riuscito ad arricchire le già notevoli composizioni degli ShAnnie con rispetto, generosità e grande spirito creativo. C’è un altro grande nome coinvolto nella realizzazione di questo album, quello di Fred Remmert che ha masterizzato l’album nel suo Cedar Creek Studio, un luogo leggendario da cui sono passati tra gli altri Lloyd Maines, Dixie Chicks, Shawn Colvin, Robert Earl Keen, Patty Griffin, Jimmy LaFave, Sam Baker, James McMurtry, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Uncle Tupelo, Sonny Landreth e Cross Canadian Ragweed. Tra le canzoni che mi hanno destato maggiore impressione la bellissima traccia d’apertura intitolata “I can’t reach you”, “Within’ your heart” un brano superbo dal sapore folk, forse il migliore dell’intero cd, in cui spiccano la voce della Acton, il basso di Roberto Re (Fabrizio Poggi & Chicken Mambo) e il toccante violoncello di Mollie Fisher; la significativa “Could it be” cantata da Kowert, il delizioso western swing “Driftin’ lost cowboy” tutto dedicato a Hank Williams; e “Weatherman” piccola gemma che chiude un cd assolutamente intrigante. (In short... He likes it!!! Bellissimo!)