Kori Shearer is a musician, wanderer, writer, and friend. She lives in Western PA where she writes fiction and sings a little bit of everything. She spends her days counseling and her nights dancing with friends.
Despite the intense wanderlust packed firmly in my heart, I’ve not yet developed the ability to travel through time and space. The next best thing I’ve discovered to satiate nomadic urges is what I like to refer to as auditory transport. I actively seek out music that allows me to move across maps and through history. I may not be a gypsy dancing around a campfire deep in woods hidden from society’s eyes, but I can hunker down in a pillow fort with my headphones and plug in Thorn & Shout’s self-titled debut album for the next best thing.
I like an album with structure, and this album flows like a day from dawn to dusk. The first song, ‘Thorn & Shout’, awakens and focuses the listener for what’s to come, with simple lyrics that set the tone and collaborative vocals that are reflected through the whole album as duo Sofia and Link share vocal responsibilities (sidenote: Sofia reports the album title is an anagram of north and south). As a fan of sensory experience in music, I was immediately drawn into feeling the first light of day in this song and being coaxed awake and ready for a full musical experience. For me, the climax of the album was the seventh of thirteen songs, and my personal favorite, ‘All Things Magical’. It was a pleasure to travel north and south with the music and close with the soothing and sleepy evening piece, ‘Gull Song.’
This album works so well as a cohesive piece. The lyrics are consistently rich and moving, relating throughout with subtle nautical themes as metaphors for a place in the world and the experience of love. Imagery comes to life: as Sofia and Link sing of the sea, their voices combine and compliment like the ebb and flow of the ocean. Their ability to use their unique vocals integrated with an array of other timeless instruments—guitar, banjo, viola, shruti box, bells, and harmonica—makes for an extraordinary balance of lyrics, voices, soul, and music.
Sofia explains, “We strive for balance and equality, but sometimes it is difficult to reconcile our extraordinarily different approaches to music. Link became a musician in order to give his words a vehicle; I became a musician in spite of words, or rather because I felt that music was my language.” As a listener, I found that their two approaches not only reconcile but complement one another in a way that brings out both strengths. Link’s mellow voice allows him to draw pictures like a story teller, and Sofia’s freedom of range and harmony adds a perfect punch of the emotion behind the words. Sofia continues, “I have started to write with much more intentionality, and I find that to be very rewarding. The key is balancing the rational aspect of music with the purely emotional or instinctual aspect- of course, this will take a lifetime, but it is something to work towards!” Certainly this debut album evidences skilled and intentional writing and a beautiful balance, and I’m so excited to hear more from Thorn & Shout. This is an album for fall, blankets, tea, and introspection, so come with an open heart and prepare to stay.