Shandy Lawson,
Devils & Crows
(self-produced, 2000)

Devils & Crows, a first CD for Connecticut musician Shandy Lawson, showcases thirteen original songs by the artist.

Unfortunately, Lawson's voice is slightly rough and scratchy; he sounds like he is bravely singing through a sore throat. His accompaniment is limited to guitar with violin (Tory Lawson) on two tracks. Other sound effects include "commentary" by Hannah Mae Lawson (recently turned 3 years old) on "Across the Street." Also, there appears to be background noise on one track; if it's intentional, then it should be a little louder. On another track, there's a false start, as though Lawson's time in the studio was at a premium and he couldn't afford to go back and re-record.

Appropriate to its name, much of the material appearing on this CD is dark in nature, beginning with "Jonestown," a rock-flavored song about a neighborhood punk. "Gone" is a bleak ballad that tells the story of a bank robbery gone bad. "Danny's Papers" is about a veteran who never recovered from his war experiences.

Even the humorous songs deal with unpleasant subjects. "Insane" is about a man who relies on the voices reciting numbers in his head. "Apocalyptic Blues" features guest artist Ozone Pete, whose voice is even rougher than Lawson's, singing about the end of the world.

While it is true that life is not always a wonderful adventure; according to this CD, it is a dreadful burden to be merely endured and never enjoyed. This is not a fun CD, nor one for people prone to deep depressions. Even eternal optimists could get dragged down by these songs. That does not mean that they are not well crafted. They are. They're just -- not cheerful.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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