It has been raining here all summer but if it was sunny I would love to be lying under a tree with a glass of basil lemonade and the summery sounds of Brett Shady latest album. “National Hotel” is easy listening. It’s not too much of anything but it is oh so pleasant. Shady’s voice sounds like sunlight streaming through the pine trees. The instrumentals are fast and casual.
The album opens with “Someone’s Southern Song”. It’s a fun, classic girl-who-got-away song. It’s quick and punchy, the lyrics are engaging, easy to follow, and oh so nostalgic. I love the additional voices joining in on the chorus.
“I don’t need another heartache. I don’t need another mistake. I need love from you, girl.” “I Will Never Run” is sweet and ambling. I love the clappy rhythms and the shouted bridge.
“Stay Together” does not have the jiving, layered instrumentals in the beginning but it has a gingery sweetness all its own. When the chorus arrives, all of that sweetness pools into a lagoon of trumpets and guitars. I really like the harmonies, the subtle female voice in the first voice. I like the way that Shady’s voice rises almost to a shout when the music intensifies. This song is simple, beautiful, soulful, and catchy! Probably my favorite track on the album.
“It’s Not Going to Be Alright” incorporates those trumpets again. (Brass instruments are so underutilized in folk music.) This song swings and swoons. There are some glorious, off kilter harmonies, some tapping rhythms, some great lyrics full of memories.
“National Hotel” finishes off with “Come Say Hello” which is dusty, dreamy, sad, and full of apologies. I love the stories and pictures that these songs imprint into my mind. I love the way that the guitar carries them along. I love Shady’s classic sounding voice. “Wish you’d come say hello when the rain turns to snow.”
Check this guy out. If you’re in California, he’s playing at California Worldfest on Friday.