Album Reviews

Billy Shaddox

I Melt, I Howl

Artist:     Billy Shaddox

Album:     I Melt, I Howl

Label:     Folkwise

Release Date:     06/16/2015

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On the first listen, Billy Shaddox might appear to be somewhat of an enigma, but the second listen clears up everything. Crafting a blend of pop and Americana with echoes of bluegrass, I Melt, I Howl presents a vision of Billy’s lifelong influences and dreams. Well-crafted pop tunes lie next to moments of lyrical and musical magic.

The title song opens the album with an immediate sense of joy and calm (“There’s a warmth deep inside you…”). The feeling lasts, even as the journey reaches into other realms. From the pop sensibility of the title track, Shaddox moves effortlessly into acoustic gems like “Fireflies,” where honest vocals and minimalist accompaniment mix with mature lyrics to evoke the simple beauty of a time gone by. The bluegrass-inspired “Feels Like Home” combines his earliest influence – his father was in a bluegrass band – with the updated feel of the Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons.

I Melt, I Howl travels forward through the visually stunning “Golden Coast” and comes to rest with “Who You Were,” where the sound of death is treated with dignified beauty (“The strength in your heart’s been traded for wind…”). As life seems to fall away, power surges into the afterlife with “Not Easy Anymore,” as harmonica, guitar (think Neil Young) and organ (think Felix Cavaliere) bring I Melt, I Howl to a dynamic end.

– Gene Knapp

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