“All That We See” by The Brian Shapiro Band
Do you prefer to listen to music that helps you escape, or do you prefer to listen to music to immerse yourself within the sonic walls? If you’re like me, you like what you like and you can’t often pinpoint exactly what it is that you like about a song, only that you just like the way it makes you feel. In the nine-song debut album, All That We See, the Philadelphia-based band, The Brian Shapiro Band, combines ferocious acoustic guitar and a nice rhythm melting in order for the listener to enjoy some ear candy.
Shapiro, the voice behind the mic, has a very eccentric way about him. He can hold a note, yes, but sometimes he wails in a way that is both funny and emotional. He really shakes things up and I get that he’s conveying his feelings as chaotic and (like most of us) he’s trying to make sense of what is happening all around us. The first few tracks on the album warm the listener up in a way that feels like he’s setting the table for a huge, grand feast by the album’s end. In “Three Things” and “We’ll Take Them All” the guitar work never lollygags, and Shapiro’s voice is centered. He swoops in, and he starts to get playful with the vocal range. By the time he hits “Thin Skin” he really keeps you guessing. I loved the timbre and cadence in his voice – he can make you feel like you’re on a merry-go-round and you catch something different each listen.
Also comprising the band are Ben Kutner-Duff and Ed Moman. Interestingly enough, Shapiro is the son of the attorney for Fleetwood Mac. I think he brings that energy in his voice, and some of the “Tusk” percussion, but I found these songs to be very cerebral. That’s a good thing! Shapiro has lived in many places of the years, including San Francisco, Austin and Paris. He comes across as a troubadour and it oozes into the words and the guitar arrangement. Sprinkle in a cascading piano here and there, and you have yourself a complete musical journey. I think these songs have been festering inside his soul for some time, and by golly, he gets them out.
All That We See has fancy moments, but for the most part, these songs are the result of artists that have immersed themselves into the fabric of humanity. These tunes are the kind that have to be listened to with a focus – they are not background songs. I imagine that Shapiro brings the same character in his voice to a live setting and to hear these songs it would be ideal to listen to them at an amphitheater, just before sunset. Better yet, the intimate moments are best suited for a dive bar in Brooklyn. Shapiro finds a way to pierce the heart, but he keeps the listener’s mind running on full-steam. I like that. I needed that. All That We See is definitely a game-changer for indie music.