Bumbershoot 2017, Day Two: Shelby Earl

all photos by Brady Harvey (view set)

Even with a full band backing her on stage at the KEXP Gathering Space Stage on the second day of the Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival, it seemed like Seattle singer songwriter Shelby Earl hardly needed a mic. Her voice rang clear, powerful, and true even when she stepped back from her mic to belt bluesy lines from her new album, The Man Who Made Himself a Name, up towards the rafters. Then again, the more that people can hear her sing the better. Earl, as Death Cab for Cutie singer Ben Gibbard has previously noted, is one of the finest voices and most vital songwriters currently making music in Seattle. What’s more, the new songs Earl focused on at Bumbershoot showed off an extra layer of pop polish that is sure to catch the ears of even more listeners. Compared to the more roots-oriented music of her previous two albums, the freshly released tracks contained just the slightest touches of new wave and power pop. Earl kicked things off with the title track from The Man Who Made Himself a Name, a driving shuffle complete with a Blondie “Heart of Glass”-like bounce and sheen, one that had many people in the crowd nodding and humming along. It’s safe to guess that the song remained in many listener’s ears long after Earl’s performance ended. Fans might have even found themselves singing it as they walked across Seattle Center to the next set. Another safe bet? They’ll be happy to carry Earl’s tunes with them.

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