Song of the Day: Shelby Earl – The Man Who Made Himself a Name

photo by Genevieve Pierson

photo by Genevieve Pierson

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unrealeased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is the title track “The Man Who Made Himself a Name” by Shelby Earl from her forthcoming album, The Man Who Made Himself a Name, due March 10, self-released on Savage Man Records and distributed by Nine Mile and Redeye Records.

Shelby Earl – The Man Who Made Himself a Name (MP3)If you’ve ever gotten into an interesting and inquisitive conversation about Seattle music and got asked who you thought was “the most heartbreakingly beautiful voice in Seattle,” some might say the timbre tycoon Shelby Earl, and if you’re Ben Gibbard, you’ve decisively given that answer. That being said, the Emerald City gem that is Shelby Earl is as polished and accomplished as ever in 2017 and is about to grace us with her newest album, The Man Who Made Himself a Name, out March 10. This third full-length is her first album in four year and comes to us following her Damien Juardo-produced album Swift Arrows, which exemplified her in-the-raw singer-songwriter saccharine nature that’s simulataneously sweet but gritty and generally finds itself in some dark surroundings.

Elegant musicianship, cinematic motifs, and character-based stories are all compositional elements to Shelby Earl’s acoustic-driven ballads and waltzes. Interestingly, musicians like to mix things up a bit. They like to keep people on their toes and their audience honest, and that’s just what Earl seems to have done with her more BØRNS-sensible, synth-arpeggiated, alt-club hit “The Man Who Made Himself a Name” that acts as the opener title track. Earl doesn’t just drop the dancey beat on new and old fans, she let’s her established and more minimal indie folk stylings ease into the electronic pop chorus. Shelby Earl might be delving into a newly textured direction, based off of “The Man Who Made Himself a Name,” but her knack for crafting a signature song rife with motifs and character-based stories don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Shelby Earl will be playing her album release show in Seattle on March 4 (a week before the official release date) at the Tractor Tavern, then in Spokane on March 10, and Walla Walla March 11. For more news and dates to come check out the info on her website and Facebook page. To boot, get a glimpse of the aforementioned Earl elegance in a Seattle Living Room Show where she performs an acoustic debut of “The Vapers” from The Man Who Made Himself a Name below.

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