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Les Shelleys – Les Shelleys

Simi Bhullar


When listening to this album, go to a quiet area and turn off all other sounds. Les Shelleys demands your full attention of which it’s deserving, the debut album from Tom Brosseau and Angela Correa singing together. The album is a compilation of traditional folk standards and covers, though each one done in its own unique way that you automatically forget the previous released versions.

The first track on the album is very important and a huge factor in determining a first listeners interest. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise does not dissapoint. The gentle movement of the melody highlights the harmonics in the two voices; one male and one female. Listening to this song gives me the perception that I’m intruding in a private moment between the two singers; that they are involved in a romantic scene and I have been given the privilege to witness it. In this song, and throughout the album, you can imagine the two singing to each other or sitting next to each other with their minds wandering off down different roads that lead to the same destination; their interlocking, soulful harmonies. In fact, the album was recorded in Tom Brosseau’s house using only a minidisc recorder and a microphone that they crowded around. It is easy to understand then how they sound so intimate as they couldn’t have physically stood closer together whilst recording.

The album is formed with the two voices and the guitar. However, the guitar doesn’t play a huge part on all of the tracks and works more as a point of reference to subtly lead the vocals. On The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll the guitar is played so quietly and delicately that you have to strain to hear it, but it emphasises the vocals, which clearly is the desired effect, and which are more than worth paying attention to.

Though the whole album is nothing but gentle and soothing The Band Played On particularly stands out. In this song, Angela’s voice lulls the listener into tranquility. This is aided by the musical accompaniment pulsing a lullaby. All of the songs are slower than the form for which they were made famous. Though this is far from a bad thing, I would like to hear the tempo pick up a little such as in Green Door where the man-made percussion drives the tempo towards a jive, respecting the Jim Lowe original. In fact, Les Shelleys are nothing but respectful of the original versions that most people would associate the songs with. Rum and Coca Cola maintains the softness and quiet found on the rest of the album whilst hitting the calypso beat. The carefully chosen songs spanning nearly 3 decades show the musical knowledge and appreciation that Tom Brosseau and Angela Correa have.