An enchantingly moving performance, The Lovely Sparrows’ “Shake the Shadow” invites us into a world of possibility and being, transition and dreams
Magic, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder – and The Lovely Sparrows’ new video is abundant in both. An enchantingly moving performance, “Shake the Shadow” invites us into a world of possibility and being, transition and dreams with a glowing display of folk brilliance and artistic ingenuity.
We drew maps on the backs of our hands,
to find a way out of our dreams –
And we sleep like little children –
afraid of the dark.
We spend our lunch breaks
trying to reclaim the spark,
Over and over again.
Can you feel it now? Can you feel it now,
Like a holy ghost?
Is it something else breathing down your neck?
Can you shake it off? Can you shake it off?
Or will you rattle along?
It’s just a rush and a push and then we’re gone.
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the music video for “Shake the Shadow,” the lead single and title track off The Lovely Sparrows’ 2018 sophomore album Shake the Shadow. The project of Austin, Texas songwriter Shawn Jones, The Lovely Sparrows began in the early 2000s, releasing an acclaimed debut album Bury the Cynics in 2008 before going quiet for the better part of a decade whilst Jones pursued a graduate degree. Released last November, Shake the Shadow came to be during Jones’ “exodus from Austin to the woods just outside of Lockhart, TX- to rebuild an old house, and regain his bearings.”
The result of such self-imposed sanctions are often introspective and nuanced, and Shake the Shadow doesn’t disappoint: The Lovely Sparrows’ sophomore effort is an exciting thrill-ride, a mesh of sound and color and emotional indulgence. Folk, psych, rock, and more collide in a charming, churning outpouring – and at the helm of it all is title track “Shake the Shadow,” the very first song on the record, ready to set the scene.
A beautifully charismatic expression of childhood, growth, and adulthood highlighting the acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, “Shake the Shadow” immerses us in The Lovely Sparrow’s colorful world.
“‘Shake the Shadow’ is the first song I wrote for the album,” Shawn Jones tells Atwood Magazine. “The inspiration and themes are kind of the threads of the album as a whole. There’s a little phrase I’ve had running through my head for the last several years: is there any real magic? What does that mean to me, or the listener? Lyrically, this song is written in a kind of dream-like logic. More directly, it was an extended metaphor for where I was at the time. A bit listless, untethered, and in a completely migratory state. It was right before I stopped teaching, started grad school for music composition, and moved south from Austin to the small town of Lockhart, Texas. Kind of like hitting the “reset” button, I suppose (trying to reclaim the spark?)”
He continues, “As far as where the song stands in context of our musical catalog, I guess I’d hope that this particular song is kind of the door between an earlier sound for us and a more forward leaning direction. You hear the woodwinds, and the finger picking – the things I think most people associate with us, but in the arrangement you start to hear a little bit of the influence of what I was studying at the time. The lyrics are also a bit less romantic, more abstract. Relationships are great, wonderful things – but writing the perfect love song has never really held my interest.”
Abstract is perhaps the best keyword here, for as nuanced as “Shake the Shadow” is, its “storyline” is not one to be followed for what it presents to us; we might better appreciate this song as a pastiche expression of time, place, emotion, and being. This is especially true for The Lovely Sparrows’ music video, which offers an eclectic portrayal of a séance.
Says Jones: “I worked on the video with my creative partner, Katie Green. (We’ve had an oddball theatre collective in Austin for a long time now, and are currently working on a magical realist video game.) The video was at least partially inspired by my love for Harry Houdini. I am fascinated by the fact that later in life he became a reluctant skeptic, and debunker of hoaxes and frauds. To me there was this beautiful melancholy subtext that he was always hoping to be proven wrong. So this video answers the question, “Is there any real magic?” and the answer is yes (with a wink). The occult, mysteries of the night, the Ouija board- these were all things that intrigued me when I was really young. Probably the result of letting a weird kid who’s really into Indiana Jones check out library books about anything they want- you know?”
“Shake the Shadows” is magical, beautiful, abstract, and utterly hypnotizing. Stream the video exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and be sure to give The Lovely Sparrows’ sophomore album a full listen below!
Stream: “Shake The Shadow” – The Lovely Sparrows
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📸 © Jamaica Cole album art by Derek Van Gieson