Hello Heartache, Welcome Home is modern but old school cool
There are a few different ways the music I write about gets to me. Sometimes I am contacted by a bar with information about an upcoming show. Sometimes, but not nearly often enough, I am contacted by the band or performer who says, “Hey, we were hoping you might give this a listen.”
(Note: If you are a band or a performer who has NOT gotten some time in The Pulse’s music section, have you actually reached out to me or anyone else at The Pulse? No? Then shuddup and do it!)
Then there are those times when I rely on my secret weapon, a local musician, producer, session player and soundman of some esteem who always seems to have some killer recommendations.
This is a secret weapon week and he handed me the new EP by Nick Shanahan, Hello Heartache, Welcome Home.
If you had asked me as a younger man what I thought about country music, it wouldn’t have been a very favorable opinion. Of course, when I was a younger man I was tragically over-exposed to “Pop Country.” I had all the “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” I could stomach and then some, a result of growing up where I grew up.
Not knocking you, if it’s your thing, it just isn’t mine.
Nope, I like my country music old school. Classic, golden age stuff. Lucky me—Nick’s new EP has more vintage country sound than a Mount Pilot Rock-Ola.
Between the glorious tones of the steel guitar (the disc practically drips with it) and the raspy, country-crooning of Shanahan, the first couple of tunes sound like they’re straight out of the arsenal of Hank Williams Sr. (the good one) or Lefty Frizzell.
To make the point more directly, that material sounds like it came from the Country Music Hall of Fame. My initial reaction to the title track, “Hello Heartache, Welcome Home,” was, “Hey, this guy is taking a page from George Jones’ book!” Then, of course, he references Jones directly in the tune…Mission accomplished, Shanahan.
This isn’t just a pack of “dusty sounding” tunes, however. In fact, there seems to be a marked progression from vintage to modern era from the first to the final track. The tasteful use of distortion lends some weight (and a touch of the contemporary) to track four, “Too Young,” a song lamenting the toll poverty can take on a relationship, a song that could garner some serious radio airtime now and would frankly make for better listening than a great deal of what is being broadcast these days.
Nick Shanahan is a name you need to remember, for a number of reasons really, not the least of which is that for now you’ll have to find the man on Facebook to keep up with his upcoming gigs.
The EP is available absolutely free of charge right now at Nickshanahan.bandcamp.com. If you have any love in your heart for golden era country or rock/roots music, you’re gonna love this guy.