by Craig Howieson
Songs that speak to the human spirit: Shannon Lay has made her most resonant record to date
When I wrote about Shannon Lay’s last record, August, it felt like she had reached a new height of artistic expression – drawing from her work with FEELS and her previous solo records, but commanding a space that was hers and hers alone. It was a record for day dreamers and believers in the power of change; a place to rest from the chaos of the world.
On her latest record, Geist, Lay is in masterful control once more, and yet, this time, her dreamy, meditative folk is weaponised to explore a litany of themes, ask probing questions, and leave answers to be figured out. Geist is a record of contradictions. Many of its tracks present as simple folk songs, but sit upon delectably complex and intricate compositions. Within her lyrics, Lay exposes raw nerves while offering balms of positivity – ‘I never dreamed I could dream to know a dream / I found another world beneath that stormy sea…’ she sings on A Thread to Find – casting an eye over an illuminated bedside globe at the matters that affect us all one second – only for the next to be lifting lines from a shielded journal.
The record has a palpable sway, at times feeling like it is fleeing from you into the distance only to return as a slowly emerging spec on the horizon. Lay leaves trails for the listener to follow, tearing a handful of grass from the earth and casting it to the wind. The bare soil she exposes is ours to excavate and resow, or not.
August may have been an escape from chaos, but Geist embraces it into its core – for what is life if not chaotic? Lay is at peace with the contradictions of the world, and through stitching this into the lining of her songs, she has created a record that is perhaps her most resonant and human to date. Songs that speak to the human spirit – for mixed up minds in a mixed up world.
Check out our exclusive interview with Shannon Lay in Zine 11 – details here.
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