Track-by-Track: Sheppard Shine Like the Sun on ‘ZORA,’ Their Luminous, Euphoric, & Cinematic Fourth Album

Zora - Sheppard
Zora - Sheppard
Sheppard’s inner light shines on their sun-kissed fourth album ‘ZORA,’ an irresistibly radiant record of life, love, and hope that sees the Australian sibling trio basking in the triumph of the human spirit and celebrating the magic of being alive.
for fans of Crystal Fighters, Harry Styles, Wallows
Stream: “Dance on the Sun” – Sheppard




For us, creating this album was a therapeutic process; it was about healing, rediscovery and of course, having fun.

Sunny and soulful, Sheppard’s fourth album gleams beautifully bold and bright.

Yet it’s not just the sun’s heat that the sibling trio set out to capture on their latest LP; rather, it’s what that warm glow represents that matters most to them. It’s a sense of renewal and the promise of a new dawn; strength to persevere, and courage to find your voice – and your place – in this world so full of noise and fraught with turmoil and tension. It’s a raw expression of possibility and potential; of life’s natural wonder and innate beauty, and of our own capacity for resilience and optimism. Sheppard’s inner light shines on ZORA, an irresistibly radiant record of life, love and hope, basking in the heat of the sun and celebrating the magic of being alive.

Zora - Sheppard
ZORA – Sheppard
Tune out the voices in your head
cause they don’t know what they’re talking about
Your demon wouldn’t stand a chance
if you could scare him first
One by one we’re picking all the pieces up
So give me all the worst you’ve got
and watch me turn it into love
Although it’s dark now
I know we’re gonna make it to sunrise
It’s not too far now
One day we’re gonna dance on the sun
I know it’s hard now
But we just gotta make it to sunrise
It’s not too far now
One day we’re gonna dance on the sun,
dance on the sun

Released June 21, 2024 via Decca Records, ZORA is spirited, soothing, and utterly all-consuming: Arriving three long, life-changing years after their acclaimed third album Kaleidoscope Eyes (which spawned hits like “Learning to Fly,” “Die Young,” and “Symphony”), Sheppard’s fourth album finds the Australian sibling trio of George Sheppard (lead vocals, guitar), Amy Sheppard (lead vocals, keys) and Emma Sheppard (bass, backing vocals) basking in the heat of a world that sometimes loses its glow.

The intervening years since their last LP have seen Sheppard relocate from their home in Brisbane, Australia, to Nashville, Tennessee, weather their fair share of personal storms, and hit their ten-year milestone as a band: Their global mega-hit “Geronimo,” their second-ever single, released in February 2014 and hit No. 1 on the ARIA Singles Chart less than two months later.

Sheppard © Giulia McGauran
Sheppard © Giulia McGauran

ZORA represents a significant evolution in our music and personal lives,” George Sheppard tells Atwood Magazine. “Kaleidoscope Eyes was us spreading our wings after figuring out who we actually wanted to be as a band, and we’ve tried to build upon those foundations to produce an album that is deeper, more introspective, and showcases a richer tapestry of beautiful melodies and fun rhythms that we’ve put together.”

For George and his sisters, ZORA is a definitive reintroduction to Sheppard: A new era for them as a band, building upon the music of their past while ceremoniously wiping the slate clean and, in a sense, starting over.

He explains, “ZORA reintroduces us not just as musicians, but as storytellers who use a wide palette of influences and genres to (hopefully) provide an immersive and profound experience, reflecting our growth and the maturity we’ve gained over the 10 years of being a full-time family band. As always, the album is meant to be listened through from start to finish as a complete listening experience.”

I’m just looking for a good time
Wanna take a never-ending holiday
Margaritas on the coastline
At a beach that feels so far away
But I’m really just a punch line
‘Cause I already have an amazing view
Always looking for a good time
But my best time is always with you




Even songs that could have, in theory, been blithely surface-level (like the upbeat, feel-good single “Good Time”) prove themselves to be deeper-diving introspections on our purpose, our place, and our values – in the example of “Good Time,” George Sheppard ruminates on his own existential cravings – that oh-so-relatable desire to let loose and just be happy – and ultimately recognizes that, to quote another pop music chanteuse, what you’re looking for has been here the whole time. It’s a nugget of profound truth, tucked into a celebration of life itself, reminding us to celebrate the simple pleasures and recognize all the good things we already have.

Such is the beauty and marvel of ZORA, an invigorating and illuminating record defined by the triumph of the human spirit.

“This album emerged during a time of profound personal challenges and life changes for us, both individually and as a family,” George Sheppard says. “As we navigated these hardships, the themes of resilience and hope naturally wove themselves into our music and the songs we were writing. ZORA is our attempt to capture this time in our lives, reflecting the emotional landscapes we’ve traversed and the strength we found in our roots and each other. It’s a record that represents growth – as individuals, as a family, and as a band.”

“Our initial vision for ZORA was to create an album that would authentically capture this time in our lives, whilst providing solace and inspiration to our listeners, and at the same time being a ton of fun to listen through,” he adds. “We wanted to share stories of resilience and optimism, of hope and determination through periods of struggle.”

“As we delved deeper into the recording process, this vision expanded, and the album evolved to include a broader narrative about the cyclical nature of life, the beauty of new beginnings, and the enduring human spirit. The more we wrote, the more we recorded, the more the album seemed to take on a life of its own, becoming a true reflection of our experiences and aspirations.”

Sheppard's cover art for single "Edge of the Earth"
Sheppard’s cover art for single “Edge of the Earth”



Sheppard candidly describes ZORA as luminous, euphoric, and cinematic.

The album is an homage to the siblings’ Croatian heritage – an embrace of their roots, and of the spirit of hope and new beginnings that permeates throughout all sixteen songs.

“The story behind the title ZORA is one of those rare, spine-tingling moments of synchronicity,” George Sheppard explains. “During a particularly rough period of isolation between our family, we found ourselves writing songs imbued with themes of resilience and hope. Our Croatian grandmother, Zora, who has always been a beacon of strength and optimism for us, inspired much of this music. She has lived a life fraught with tragedy and hardship, but she somehow remains the happiest and most joy-filled person we know.”

“When it came time to name the album, we wanted to honour her and our Croatian heritage. Out of curiosity, we translated ‘dawn’ into Croatian, and to our complete amazement, the word that came up was ‘Zora.’ Our jaws literally dropped. It was a moment of perfect synchronicity that gave us goosebumps, even typing it out now it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. It felt like a legacy coming full circle, a profound connection that chose us as much as we chose it. We knew then and there that the album was called ZORA.”

Pressure mounting
h
eartbeat pounding
I start counting
All the mountains I still have to climb
And it keeps me up all night
The second hand is in slow motion
Information overloaded
Wide awake and wired
But I’ve never been so tired
When all of my stars are broken
All of the dark starts closing
In on my heart, you open up my sky…
You hit me like daylight
Making me open my eyes
Your love is like every single colour magnified
Some-some-something like magic
Changing my energy flow
Whenever the world around me starts to lose its glow
You light up like a light bulb




Sheppard © Giulia McGauran
Sheppard © Giulia McGauran

From the warm glow of songs like “Daylight” and “Sunshine” to the infectious cheer of “Good Time,” “Edge of the Earth,” and “Dance on the Sun,” ZORA is filled with moments of connection and catharsis, comfort and beauty. The Sheppard siblings’ raw humanity shines throughout as they openly and honestly confront life’s darker, harder moments, searching for and ultimately leaning into the light. ZORA may feel like a dream at times – elevating reality has long been one of Sheppard’s musical strengths – but overall, this album is unapologetically visceral and vividly real.

“While it’s tough to pick favorites, ‘Play on the Moon’ stands out to me for its personal significance — it’s reflective and nostalgic, yet beautiful and hopeful,” George says, reflecting on his own personal highlights. “‘Dance on the Sun’ is another favorite because it’s just such a different sound for us. A bit more chill and introspective, and I personally love the somewhat psychedelic vibe of the track. ‘Edge of the Earth’ is another highlight because of its vibrant energy and its message about the lengths we’ll go for those we love, it’s so much fun to play live. I can’t wait to tour these songs!”

As for lyrics, the Sheppard brother has quite a few standouts. “One of my favorite lines opens the chorus of ‘Dance on the Sun’: ‘Although it’s dark now, I know we’re gonna make it to sunrise.’ It’s almost like the album’s mantra. Another favorite lyric of mine is from the bridge of the album closer, ‘Play on the Moon’ – ‘We were kids, our hands were full of time, and all at once, we start to realize these golden days don’t last forever. So give love and grab it with both hands and show up for every song, and dance while you still can.’ It’s a beautifully nostalgic track, and that line sums up what we’re all about as people and as a band – you have to seize the moment, and cherish the fleeting beauty of life’s golden days.”

Sheppard © Giulia McGauran
Sheppard © Giulia McGauran

Ultimately, ZORA is an uplifting, smile-inducing ode to the beauty in our world.

Its catchy, cathartic songs serve as a reminder that love conquers all; that light vanquishes the darkness; and that after every night, there dawns a new day. Don’t think of Sheppard’s new album as an escape, so much as an embrace of all the good life has to offer each and every one of us – even when times are tough, even when it’s hard to see the light. This is their soundtrack to hope, to perseverance, and to finding your voice anew.

Sheppard have emerged in 2024, ready to be a much-needed beacon of light in our lives.

“We hope listeners find a piece of themselves in ZORA and feel a strong sense of connection to the themes of resilience and renewal,” George Sheppard shares. “For us, creating this album was a therapeutic process; it was about healing, rediscovery and of course, having fun.”

“Putting it out into the world feels like we’re sharing a part of our souls – a definitive chapter of our lives, hoping it might inspire others to hold on for the warmth of that new daylight, even in their darkest moments.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Sheppard’s Zora with Atwood Magazine as George Sheppard takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s fourth studio album!

— —

:: stream/purchase ZORA here ::
:: connect with Sheppard here ::
Stream: ‘ZORA’ – Sheppard



:: Inside ZORA ::

Zora - Sheppard

— —

Zora

Meaning “Dawn” in Croatian, this instrumental opener aims to capture the serene beauty of a sunrise with a delicate crescendo that evokes a sense of renewal and cautious optimism. It introduces the album with a triumphant, uplifting energy, setting a tone of resilience that subtly threads through the subsequent tracks. In that sense, the whole album could be interpreted as a complete “day”. From dawn to dusk.

Daylight

“Daylight” kicks off the album with a vibrant and uplifting anthem that celebrates the illuminating power of love. The song’s energetic beat and vivid imagery depict love as a beacon that can pierce through the darkest times, much like the first light of dawn chases away the night. It has a real urgency about it, like there’s a whole lot of built up pressure needing to be released, which it finally does with the chorus hits. It’s a fun pay off. Its message is one of rejuvenation and awakening. With its bright melodies and euphoric energy, “Daylight” sets a powerful, invigorating tone for the rest of the album.

Good Time

“Good Time” is a bouncy and breezy summer track that invites listeners to escape the humdrum routine of daily life and immerse themselves in pure joy. Fun and carefree, the song conjures up images of sun-soaked days during an endless summer spent with friends. It’s a celebration of living in the moment and appreciating the simple pleasures that make life so delightful. The track encourages listeners to let loose and embrace the happiness that comes from spontaneous, unbridled youth. It’s that carefree feeling that comes with having your whole life ahead of you. In the context of the album, this track represents fully embracing the new day, completely forgetting the darkness that once was.

Got To Be Love

“Got to Be Love” delves into the resilience and steadfast power that love can give us during life’s turbulent phases. Fun, powerful singalong chorus, this track is a celebration of love as a sustaining force that carries us through adversity. It represents the strength and comfort that love brings,.

Sunshine

A very uplifting melody, “Sunshine” encourages listeners to bask in the warmth and joy of the sun. The song is a reminder of the comfort and brightness that hope can bring, urging everyone to seize any moment to enjoy themselves after experiencing dark times. It’s a perfect “midday” anthem, where the sun is at its peak, symbolizing the height of the day’s positivity and energy.

Edge of the Earth

Written from the perspective of our partners, “Edge of the Earth” illustrates their devotion and commitment in moving across the world with us to chase our dreams. This track expresses a readiness to follow a loved one anywhere, a song of unwavering loyalty and support. It resonates with the idea of taking a huge leap of faith together, feeling at home regardless of the destination.

Love Like That

“Love Like That” is a dreamy, aspirational ballad about the heights love can reach when it’s bold and unreserved. It’s an invitation to experience a grand, adventurous love that feels expansive. Almost a drunken love, where the possibilities are endless.

Nothing Without You

A painful reflection on how even the greatest achievements feel empty without someone special to share them with, “Nothing Without You” is a track emphasising the idea that true fulfillment comes from real human connections, not material possessions.

Running Straight to You

A song dedicated to the enduring strength of love over distance and time, this song is a powerful anthem for anyone who has ever had to fight obstacles and cross vast distances to be with the one they love. Very much a classic Sheppardsong!

Respect

“Respect” combines a fun pop production with a clear (and somewhat sassy) message about self-worth and the demand for dignity in relationships that have fallen apart. Written for a friend of ours who had just experienced a very ugly separation, this track stands as a declaration of self-respect and independence – a crucial reminder for anyone who has felt undervalued to find strength within themselves and move forward with confidence, regardless of others’ opinions.

Chasing The Sound

A bit of a ’70s disco throwback! “Chasing the Sound” is about the intoxicating and somewhat addictive effect music can have on a person. Imagining music itself as a drug to chase. The song celebrates getting “high” off of music and using it to escape your demons and lose yourself in your happy place.

Dance on the Sun

Quite a bit of a departure from our usual sound, but this was one of the first songs we wrote for ZORA. It was an important moment because it was the song that essentially told us where the album was headed. A vision of triumph over darkness that we hope inspires listeners to keep pushing forward through their darkest times. It’s cruisy and dreamy, almost with a psychedelic quality. Sounds like I’m talking about a fine wine haha.

The Gift

“The Gift” is one of the more experimental tracks on the album, but just came out of our frustrations with social media and the potential damage it can do to your mental health. The song critiques our often distracted modern existence and celebrates the clarity that comes from disconnecting and appreciating the present moment. An energetic meditation on the importance of being present and valuing the here and now. With a sick drum beat. It also starts and ends with the phone lock noise, which I think is a fun little detail.

Love Me Tomorrow

A more gentle, introspective tone, “Love Me Tomorrow” brings the permanence of love into question. It explores the vulnerability and doubts that can come with a new relationship, having been hurt by love in the past.

Play on the Moon

“Play on the Moon” is almost like a lullaby. It combines nostalgia with a forward-looking optimism, reflecting on the boundlessness of youthful dreams and the realities of growing older. It’s a poignant reminder to cherish ambitions and the beauty of hoping against the odds, and serves as a nice little twilight track to send us away.

Sumrak

Meaning “Dusk” in Croatian, “Sumrak” is the closing instrumental bookend to the album, offering a reflective, soothing end to the journey (with a little easter egg surprise at the end). The music suggests the quiet peace of dusk, providing a contemplative counterpart to the opening track and underscoring the cyclical nature of beginnings and endings, and being stronger heading into the next phase, whatever challenges it may bring.

— —

:: stream/purchase ZORA here ::
:: connect with Sheppard here ::

— — — —

Zora - Sheppard

Connect to Sheppard on
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Giulia McGauran

ZORA

an album by Sheppard



More from Mitch Mosk
Premiere: Theodore’s Love Song “The Lisper” Is a Breath of Innocence & Authenticity
Greece’s Theodore taps into love’s innocence and magic in his utterly beautiful...
Read More