Sound Track web extra: Shod My Feet

Local alt-pop trio Shod My Feet is back — in a big way. Not only has the band (Emily Keebler on vocals/keys/guitar/clarinet, Sherman Hoover on bass/backup vocals/keys and Andrew Ross on percussion/backup vocals) returned from a baby-having/getting married hiatus, but they’ve recorded their first full-length, Orange.

The 10-track LP starts with the slow, contemplative (and, at turns, tongue-in-cheek) “Fake Break Up.” It’s a solid song, but the album’s real surprises come later. Like the spastic hand claps (or, perhaps, foot stomps?) that give way to perfectly-timed drums at the beginning of “Poor Boy,” and the way Keebler’s vocal on that songs hints at Grace Slick.

Keebler actually has a number of singing voices. Her vocal is suited for jazzy low-lit lounge fare, but she also has the ability to move effortlessly from serious and sultry to theatrical and character-driven. “In Focus,” with its long, cool descending scales and its glossy percussion, is more sultry/serious. But “Happy Song,” (which begins, “This is a song about being sad / I write songs about the troubles I have”) ambles and sways. It edges against cutsey. It would make sense with a ukulele. On a She and Him record — that’s a good thing. Songs with a built-in wink serve a purpose: as the song’s title suggests, they make us happy.

“Happy Song” has shades of a comedic role in Keebler’s voice, but it’s the album’s title track that really introduces Shod My Feet’s ability to pair earnest musicianship with a sense of whimsy. This song mixes quirky lyrics and Keebler’s ambitious range that pushes its own boundaries to end in a soprano squeak. It’s an energetic (almost frantic) offering with a clever spoken word section around the one-minute mark.

The spoken word approach returns with the Laurie Anderson-esque “Intelligent Design.” That song is a smart sneak-attack of jazz percussion, a hum of keyboard baselines and the static-y spit of vocal, as industrial as it is edgy. Keebler’s quick-paced spoken sections recall the brainy antics of Alanis Morissette and Ani DiFranco, only with more smirk, more humor. It’s a winning concoction.

Orange also has plenty of intensity. “Alleghenies” swells in dark waves of intensity; “Down Where You Were” is a work of nocturnal poetry, dreamy and dense. Final track, “Serious,” however, is actually a return to the band’s trademark wink. Here, Keebler’s vocal unfurls along a roller coaster of oh-oh-oh-ohs and Cabaret song-stylings. Set to a simple acoustic guitar melody, it’s absolutely charming.

Shod My Feet holds an album release party on Friday, Nov. 2, 9:30 p.m. at The Lab. Hello Hugo and Gavin Conner also perform. $5.


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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