Late next month, The Reverend Shawn Amos will release his next full-length studio album, The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down. The nine-song collection will have come less than a year after the release of his most recent album The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You, when it is released, and is a welcome return from the veteran bluesman. That is due in no small part to the album’s musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical themes are just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangements. They will be discussed later. Last but definitely not least of note in examining this record is its overall sequencing. It will also be discussed later. Each noted element is important in its own way to the album’s whole. All things considered, they make The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down a record that never breaks down.
The Reverend Shawn Amos’ latest full-length studio recording The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down is another impressive offering from the veteran bluesman. From start to finish, it is a work that never breaks down. Yes, that awful pun was intended. That is due in no small part to the album’s musical arrangements. The arrangements are so notable because of their variety. The album starts out with a pure, old schoolChicago blues style arrangement — complete with harmonica — in ‘Moved.’ It is an arrangement that will easily appeal to blues purists, considering it is just Amos, a guitar and a harmonica. ‘2017,’ which is also one of the album’s singles, boasts a more modern, almost R&B-infused arrangement that will appeal to fans of B.b. King. ‘Hold Hands’ comes across as a more blues-rock style arrangement, showing even more the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements. That is only the first part of the record, too. ‘The Jean Genie,’ which is a cover of David Bowie’s original and the album’s fourth offering, boasts an arrangement that will appeal to fans of Muddy Waters while the trio of songs that make up the album’s ‘Freedom Suite’ — ‘Uncle Tom’s Prayer’ (one of the album’s three covers), ‘Does My Life Matter’ and ‘We’ve Got To Come Together’ will instantly transport audiences back to the civil rights era through their arrangements (and topical matter, which will be discussed later). Amos’ take on ‘Uncle Tom’s Prayer’ pays full tribute to Cordell Reagon’s original while the full-on contemplative vibe of ‘Does My Life Matter’ will touch listeners deeply with its arrangement. One can almost see the song’s subject going back and forth with himself before finally realizing his place is just as important as anyone else’s as he sings. ‘(We’ve Got To) Come Together,’ with its funky guitars and horns, takes audiences back to the 1970s . As if that isn’t enough, the album’s final pair of songs — ‘Ain’t Gonna Name Names’ and Amos’ cover of (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding,’ which is the third of the album’s covers — keep that musical time capsule wide open. The bonus closer ‘Diggin’ My Potatoes’ is another old school blues opus that will appeal in its own right to blues purists, too. Between that arrangement and each of the others presented throughout the course of the album’s 33-minute run time, it becomes clear just how much the arrangements offer listeners. That in turn shows the importance of the arrangements to the album’s whole. Of course the arrangements are collectively just one part of what makes the album another positive effort from Amos. The album’s lyrical themes are just as important to discuss as its musical arrangements.
The lyrical themes presented throughout this album are so important to note because they are by and large very socially conscious. From the clear push for unity presented in ‘Hold Hands’ to the ‘Freedom Suite,’ which as already noted, takes listeners back to the civil rights, to the original ‘2017,’ which reminds listeners (and warns them) of the impact of the events of 2017, this record’s lyrical themes are very deep concepts. Even ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding’ is a clearly socially conscious work that is just as relevant today as it was way back in 1974. To a lesser extent, one could even argue that ‘Moved,’ the album’s opener, presents its own social conscience as Amos sings from the vantage point of someone struggling internally with some very strong and conflicting thoughts. Given, not every one of the album’s songs boasts the social conscienceness that is evident throughout the majority of the album (I.E. ‘Diggin’ My Potatoes,’ ‘The Jean Genie’), but even with this in mind, those anomalies are still enjoyable in their own right with their themes. Keeping this all in mind, the collective lyrical themes presented throughout this album are just as deep as the album’s musical arrangements. They still are not the last of the album’s most important elements. Its sequencing roudns out its most important elements.
The sequencing of Amos’ forthcoming album is so critical to its presentation because it serves to maintain the album’s energy from start to finish. The album starts slow and brooding in ‘Move,’ wasting no time picking up the energy in the next two songs. ‘Jean Genie’ slows things back down a bit. That more contemplative vibe continues from there through most of the ‘Freedom Suite’ before picking back up in the Suite’s closer. The album pulls back a little more again from there before closing out in solemn, gospel style in ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding.’ That gentle finale makes for an interesting juxtaposition to the album’s opener, which is — again — slow in its own right, but in different fashion. It is just as interesting in comparison to the rest of the album’ stylistically speaking. That variance of energies (and balance) from beginning to end, ensures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment just as much as the album’s musical arrangements themselves and their companion lyrical themes. When all three elements are considered alongside each other, they create a picture that proves in total that this record is one that at no point ever breaks down.
The Reverend Shawn Amos’ latest full-length studio recording The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down is an effort that itself never breaks down. Rather, it is a record that proves to be another success from the veteran bluesman. As has already been noted, that is due in part to the musical arrangements that will appeal to blues fans of all types and ages. The largely socially conscious lyrical themes presented across the album collectively strengthen its foundation even more. Its sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation. Each element is important in its own way to the album’s whole. All things considered, they make the album another solid new effort from The Reverend Shawn Amos. More information on The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down is available online now along with all of his latest live dates, news and more at:
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