When I listen to Lamps, the latest album from Brooklyn-based musician Shira E, it feels as though I am walking through a forest. Through the trees I hear sounds from many directions; a clear voice that lifts with strength through its wounding; a baritone ukulele plucked and strummed, the sheen falling off its strings as they clang against the wooden body.
It is so rare that I find myself in a forest. For the artist, just as much as for the outdoorsperson, the forest is enchantingly mysterious and intriguingly dangerous, whether it is a space in your head or a place on the map. The forest, however, seems to provide something vital, be it a reward at the other end of the thick or, at the very least, a t-shirt at the gift shop reading ‘I Survived the Forest’ that fits snugly around your memory.
If writing and recording Lamps was a journey through the forest for Shira E, then the album’s completion is her proud souvenir. The album bears more than her previous efforts. Some songs tapped into areas that almost kept her from recording them. Luckily, with the support of musicians closest to her, these songs have made it out of the forest with her.
Lamps is an example of folk music stripped of the gloss it has somehow inherited throughout its recent years as a fad. Gone is the manufactured, fail-safe sound of contemporary folk-pop, and through this loss of sight, memory, and familiarity, you instead hear raw and natural sounds. These sounds are real, slightly haunting, and bathed in the beauty of the fact that music isn’t an exact science, that sounds can come from anywhere and strike anything, especially in the dark.
Listen to Lamps in full, along with Shira E’s past albums, here. In addition to visiting her website and Facebook fan page, check out Dirt Choir, ‘a poetry bazaar for the honest, strange, and mighty,’ to see what else this talented and busy woman is up to.