Jack Shields is on the move again. During our previous visit to Shields’ talents, he was “Leaving California,” the title track of his debut EP. In “Five Star City,” Jack is contemplating leaving the comfort and familiarity of his hometown to try life in a larger city. He describes the lyrics as “a personal challenge to my own idealistic image of ‘moving to the big city,’ as well as an ode to all those who take the leap from suburbia into the concrete jungle.”
Instrumentally, “Five Star City” is an upbeat, steady-drive track until the final 30 seconds, when the guitars step away to allow the calming synth to carry the vocals to the song’s conclusion. The steady-drive portion is characterized by intelligent mixing of guitar hooks, synth, and consistent percussion sandwiching a short jangly guitar-driven bridge (starting at 1:36).
Still, the standout aspect of “Five Star City” is the vocalization. Jack Shields’ voice has a soothing allure and a confidence while describing his vision of being in the city. In comparison, the higher-octave backing voice is distant and has an increased melodic purity.
Jack Shields is a 20-year-old
guitarist/singer/songwriter/producer from Ridgefield, Connecticut. It was there
he began playing guitar at the age of 10, which also happened to be when he
encountered one of his guitar heroes eating dinner. It didn’t go as planned,
however. Instead—in so many words—Keith Richards told him to piss off, causing
Shields to go home and cry for the following two hours. Nonetheless, it’s a
story he holds near and dear to his heart.
For the majority of the
previous decade Shields has been holed up in his basement studio writing,
producing, and honing his craft under various aliases, most notably as
“atolla”. Writing about subject matters beyond his years, with a sound equal in
match, a keen ear will recognize on his new EP, Sharks and Whales, influences
ranging from the War on Drugs, to Mark Knopfler, to Trey Anastasio.
From screaming guitar solos
(People Zoo), to soulful harmonies (Forth Year), to introspective and
thoughtful ballads (Sharks and Whales), his true talent lies in synthesizing
his influences into something original and expansive. Citing some his
influences as Fleet Foxes, B.B. King, Beach Boys, Nick Drake, Grateful Dead,
and Phish to name a few, he’s determined to make Keith Richards not only finish
his dinner, but to eat his words.
While his current base is in
Connecticut, his heart remains in California, as evidenced by his first single
(and the name of his first EP) “Leaving California.” He recently wrote an
original musical score for the book trailer of A Curious Year in the Great
Vivarium Experiment, due out in winter, 2018. He is currently creating a
soundtrack/album inspired by the novel.