Many different descriptors have been applied to Shadowfields’ music. These have included Americana, neo-gypsy and swamp-grass. However, the pairing of multi-instrumentalist Tom McKeown and singer Heather Humphrey’s “Never Again” is nothing quite so exotic. It is, instead, a fairly straight forward ballad. The song is also a sad, post-relationship song.
The only elements that point specifically to the act’s Americana sound are its fiddle and mandolin. This is no hoedown, though, not by any estimation. It begins with a mournful acoustic piano part that could have easily been applied to one of Barry Manilow’s romantic ballads back in the 70s. (Let’s be clear here, though. This is as Manilow-esque as the song ever gets). Perhaps the only other factor that brings out the song’s root-sy roots is McKeown and Humphrey’s harmony vocals.
Relationships that go wrong leave an indelible mark on the heart. There are many mistakes we as humans make repeatedly. Sometimes, we forget our last failure to complete some task or other. Maybe it’s been a long while since we last attempted such an endeavor. But lo and behold, when the chance comes again, we blow it; many times, the exact same we blew it the time before. Broken hearts, however, have long, long memories. Amid that heartache, ones who are hurt might say, without hesitation, ‘never again.’ This song lyric is just such an emotional resolution.
“You wake in the morning/With an ache in your heart,” the song begins with Humphrey singing. McKeown then continues the first verse be remarking about the appearance of facial lines in a mirror reflection. Lines on one’s face and that ache in the heart are evidences of the pain that’s been caused. These factors lead to determined change of heart.
Although there is a hopelessness associated with crying oneself to sleep, as the lyric details. it’s ultimately a hopeful situation because these feelings of hopelessness will end. A person may not know how long this healing will take, but they know with certainly that healing will happen – one day.
The act is based in Chicago and have recorded five albums together since 2006. This song has potential to break Shadowfields out to a larger audience. Although it never betrays the couple’s stylistic roots, it’s performed like an adult contemporary ballad and will likely even appeal to those that aren’t particularly big fans of Americana music. In other words, it’s a strong, pop ballad from musicians that have a lot of different stylistic weapons – so to speak – in their arsenal.
Although this song suggests a romantic situation, it can be applied to many scenarios. One could, for example, put this into the context of drug and alcohol recovery. It’s that moment where a person has reached rock bottom, so to speak. They vow to themselves that they’ll never again use (or more correctly, misuse) a substance. Of course, this vow ought to also be associated with a plan of action with a recovery group of some sort. Nevertheless, the song also fits this situation.
Most all great songs are at least slightly multi-purposeful because they draw upon universal situations and emotions. “Never Again” also fits that bill. Those that need to find resolve in some situation or other, will more than likely find inspiration from this strong piece of music.