Shea Hill are a little known two person act out of Milwaukee, WI, but singer/songwriter Doug Shea writes music like he’s been doing it for decades because, well, he has. Doug’s career started out with little known bands in the local area but he hit it pretty big (from an indie band standard) with Spirit Creek, almost nabbing a deal with Wind Up records. The Creek has long since run dry, but Shea’s musical abilities have done anything but. His new project, with bassist and musical color man Aaron Hill, showcase the power, emotion, and song writing ability that almost netted him a major label deal. All of this is on display in The Elegy Of Me.
I was told before I heard the record that it was this dark and edgy thing. After the first track nothing could be further from the truth. There are some songs that evoke a feeling of sorrow for sure, but the album is far from dark. I don’t think Doug can make dark music anymore as he is a man who is known for being very positive in his personal life, mostly because of his strong faith in his creator. The album’s first single “Away, Awayâ€ reads more like a song you’d listen to on a beach in the sun than in a dark room alone. I didn’t like the song at first, but it’s slowly growing on me. The thickly layered violins kinda throw me off as it’s not what I’m used to hearing from Shea in his music, but the song, outside of that, is really good.
“Why I Haven’t Given Inâ€ is a great acoustic kind of ballady song Doug has been writing for years now. It’s acoustic but not really as there are some great sprinklings of strings and various other things; none the less it’s a very powerful song. I was with someone when they first heard it and she said it almost made her cry; not because it was sad but because it was so beautiful. The song is, I suspect, Doug telling his wife she is his bedrock, and the reason he continues to pursue his dream despite numerous setbacks and delays. It’s a great song to play, I think, at a wedding for a first dance as it’s down tempo and would be easy to dance to because (thankfully) it’s not in a waltzy 3-4 time.
The album’s title track is really what does it for me. It’s the one song on the album that has that dark edge to it but still retains a lot of color thanks to what sound like bells or chimes in the background of the verses. Color is also brought in heavy over the chorus with some synth overdubs but the chord progression of the guitar and the music that kind of follows it in the song really retains that darkness. The song is just killer and quite frankly is one of the best song’s he’s ever written. I know that’s not a great qualifier since 99.9% of you have no frame of reference, but trust me, once you hear this song, you’ll hear how amazing it is.
The album as a whole is very solid. It’s an album you have to listen to in its entirety at first as there are a lot of little things going on musically that tie the whole album together. There are some times where I think the musical “coloringâ€ was a little much, but that’s nitpicking. For a guy who’s starting his career over again, Doug Shea has taken a great first step and hopefully this album and its creator will be recognized for how good they truly are.