The Shells, Written Road

shells_phixrThe Shells give their listeners a lot to take in. Listening to Written Road, you’ll find beautiful vocals, stunning 3-part harmonies, empowering lyrics, not to mention the layers of the instrumental side. Yes, these women are country, but don’t let that fool you. They let the country come in as they please, and the rest is some strong pop rock, ranging from the slow, more ballad-type songs to up-tempo songs like “Change.” The Shells certainly know how to play with genres, which makes their CD a lot more interesting to listen to.

While the comparison to the Dixie Chicks is obvious, seeing as there are three female voices singing harmony with elements of country, this band has something different. It’s hard to put a finger on, but when you listen you just know that these women are special.

The strongest element of the songs is the harmonies. The three voices all have a very smooth and sweet tone, and they blend like sisters. They also make use of many instruments, mainly the staples of guitar, piano, bass, drums, but also throwing in some banjo, fiddle, and occasionally a string orchestra in the background. While the music is beautiful, it doesn’t overpower and is not overstated. It perfectly complements what matters most in these songs: the lyrics and the voices. Above all, the Shells are singers, and the harmonies are much more important to the songs than screaming guitar solos.

A perfect example of this is “Stain.” The music stays in the background while the singers just sing, mixing their voices together in a way that makes you wonder why every other band out there doesn’t use 3-part harmony. Each voice is just as much a part of the melody as the others, and if you take one away, you take away the power of the song.

And the songs are powerful. These are strong women singing these songs, and they back down for no one. Just listen to “Change,” and they’ll tell you, “These words are not a compromise.” They can’t change who they are, but you won’t want them to anyway.

Review By: Valerie Williams

[Rating: 4.5/5]

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