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Shannon Wright


Shannon Wright is one of the rare artists who gets better with each release. In early February 2017, her latest and greatest, Division arrived.

Her sound is a long and winding evolution which I guess - in one way or another - is true about everyone's career but hers is all about calibration and focus. There is a commonality in the threads that wind their way throughout her musical odyssey for she is heavy on the devil-tritone-minor-dissonance and 3/4 - 6/8 waltz signatures. She has blossomed like an awkward teen. There are strains of PJ Harvey and Amanda Palmer (minus the Lene Lovich impediment) albeit Wright wields a more refined sense of melody and a thicker slab of melancholy.

She never even picked up a guitar until her early twenties but had always been a music fanatic though she never imagined that one day she would be a musician. Her first band, Crowsdell, was performing live six months after they first formed and the first ten songs that Wright ever wrote became the material for their first album. She was a sponge au naturale. Crowsdell, got their start in their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida before touring the East Coast in support of a handful of 45 platters on a smattering of indy labels.

By the time that elements of grunge went pop and/or devolved into nu-metal, Crowsdell delivered the second wave alternative masterpiece, Dreamette (1995). Produced by Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, it featured the dirty pleasure, Sad Eyes. They shared a confidence that only Bettie Serveert was exuding during this era. Released on the UK based Big Cat label, who in turn was sold to V2, who in turn showed Crowsdell the door. The master tapes of their sophmore effort, Within the Curve of an Arm (1997) were left collecting dust on a shelf. The experience left Wright devastated and began a self-imposed exile on a North Carolina farm with the intention of hanging her number from the rafters.

After a two year hiatus, a wiser Wright re-emerged. As Crowdell's first 45 was released on the Chicago indy, Overcoat Recordings, she turned once again to the Windy City for a lift and signed with Touch and Go's subsidiary, Quarterstick Records. Flightsafety found itself on several Best of 1999 year-end lists and opened the door for her next adventure which now featured the sound wizard Steve Albini behind the recording console. They began an impressive five year long sonic journey: Map of Tacit (2000), Dyed in the Wool (2002) and Over the Sun (2004). Instrumentally, A Perfect Circle veers into her ether throughout the run.

Though she was now headquarted in Atlanta, Georgia, France became her second home where she found a new label (Vicious Records) and kindred spirit in Yann Tiersen, the French composer whose works are often repurposed to serve as soundtracks (Amelie). The duo's 2004, Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright endeared her to a receptive European audience.

I don't believe that she has ever made a mediocre record in her career and for over a decade Vicious and Wright have created a library of masterworks: Honeybee Girls (2009), Secret Blood (2010) and In Film Sound (2013) - each release slightly more engaging than the previous, down a path that brings us to Division.

I'm a sucker for a waltz, an imitable voice of the female persuation, and the Theme Song from Rosemary's Baby so today I hit pay dirt when I first pushed the button and The Thirst poured out.

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