For those who don’t know, Messrs Smith and Myers are one half of Shinedown and they, like most performers, have been struggling a little over the last few months in terms of getting their music out to a live audience. They have thus, again like many other performers, chosen to channel their efforts into new creations and the result is a pair of albums comprising both new and cover material (a 50/50 split). The covers were fan-picked, which is cool, and overall it’s a predominantly acoustic affair.
Volume 1 has been out for a week or so now, and features five new songs (“Not Mad Enough”, “The Weight Of It All”, “Panic!”, “Coast To Coast” and “Since You Were Mine”) alongside five cover versions. Volume 2 will hit us shortly, again with five covers and five originals (“Bad At Love”, “New School Shiver”, “GBL GBD”, “Like You Never Left”, “One More Time”)
The new songs are very much along the lines of what you’d expect from Shinedown in terms of lyrical content and variety. Some are better than others, but they’re all good. They range from laid back (“Not Mad Enough”) which could feature on any Shinedown album, to those with a bit of a sidestep like the wonderfully rock n’ roll “New School Shiver”. It’s a toe-tapping bluesey number, all distorted vocals and handclaps, and it’s wonderful. Definitely one to look forward to on the forthcoming release!
“GBL GBD” is another great original number, this time with a country twang and a nice positive message (“Get busy living or get busy dying”). Mainly due to these two, I found that the newer songs on Volume 2 to be that bit better than those on Volume 1 where they’re good (very good), but just don’t “pop” the way these do. I think those on the first volume sound more like regular Shinedown output, whereas those on the second disc are a little more… sideways. That little bit of experimentation has paid off.
The covers are also variable. Some are just… covers. Good enough and obviously well performed. However, a couple really benefit from being presented in this stripped-down format and a bit of rearrangement. “Rockin’ In The Free World” and “Rebel Yell” probably illustrate this the best, both being quite different from their original versions and, while not being better, certainly having far more impact. If there’s one I didn’t like too much it was “Unchained Melody”, though in fairness I don’t like the original too much – and it’s been covered to death already.
It’s a nice idea releasing these as two volumes with the songs evenly divided between new and “old”, and alternating as they do. There’s little to pick from between them and if you enjoyed Volume 1 then there’s no reason not to recommend its companion piece as well. I’ve weighed, I’ve balanced, I’ve considered and overall each Volume is as good as the other.
Header image by Paris Visone
Volume 1 is out now, Volume 2 is out on the 23rd of October