Shotgun Tori. Be Brave.
Sheer Sound, 2013
Shotgun Tori: http://www.shotguntori.co.za/
Victoria Landey, playing as Shotgun Tori, is one serious vocal powerhouse coming out of South Africa music scene today. Since her 2011 debut EP Are We Fine Yet?, Shotgun Tori has performed over 300 live concerts in South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique, as many as three performances in one day. In case that wasn’t enough work, her newest album, hot off the press Be Brave, is funded through IndieGogo crowd funding. Even with her early stage career, she’s received award nominations, a number of large festival shows, and opened for Xavier Rudd.
Since receiving this album earlier in the week, it’s quickly become my go-to pick-me-up album. The title says all that I needed this week and good music surely serves to help steel the soul for me. Make that music as subtly powerful as Shotgun Tori’s and there’s no way I can’t feel emboldened and ready to conquer anything in my way. She blends folk, rockabilly, and alternative for a sound that can go from gritty to dreamy in just a few minutes. While some critics have stated that the concept of strong female artist with a guitar is one that has been done “ad nausea”, Shotgun Tori brings new life and new sound to the scene, and no one’s critiquing the fact that far more men have used the artist with a guitar model, and they’re still recognized as not replicating other material.
Be Brave opens to quiet, somber sounds in Brightside, wherein Shotgun Tori calls herself “just a woman” and then spends the rest of the album demonstrating exactly how much of an understatement that “just” is. Dear John has a much brighter sound, with its jazzy horn and retro keyboard bars. The beginning of the title track channels the gentle rebellion in every survivor or overcomer of obstacles- “I’m not gonna behave”- while the breathy abstract vocalizations give an almost primal feeling to points in this poetry. Nights Like That brings Shotgun Tori’s country styling to the forefront, with a gritty voice that manages to do loop-de-loops somehow. Coming down from the barroom Joplin sound, Wooden Decks has a loping feel with a modern touch. She’s in no hurry, and is intent on moving at her own pace, so no sense trying to change her. Game Changer is rough and tumble vocally, with solid guitar backing. In Neon Lights, we hear some stunning background effects and soaring vocals alongside a simplistic but beautiful guitar. Going whispy and wonderful on Some Sort of Grace, Shotgun Tori sounds the part of one of those gems in a coffee shop on open mic night. Grand Delusion has a spunky, wiry sound that gets your energy up but not in an over-caffeinated way; you won’t buzz yourself into frenzy with this one. Backing off a little for Where Did I Go?, Tori continues to display how her vocal dexterity rivals her finger dexterity while lamenting the impact internalizing negativity can have on people. Zombie Song is a silly story of a popular topic in pop culture- zombies- and pulls off the gruesomeness inherent with the living dead with panache and verve. To end the album, Love of Folk goes soft once more, as the music leaves like a gentle kiss on the cheek before dawn.
I don’t know if it’s something about the name Tori, but Shotgun Tori joins a line of hard-hitting, soul-searching female singer songwriters by the same name. I have a feeling that this star is headed just as far as the likes of Tori Amos, and you should check her out and show her some love from this hemisphere. At the moment, it might be a bit harder to get her album, but it’s on last.fm to check out this piece of emotion set to music. This album is powerful, both technically and emotionally. Struggle is such a universal experience, but unfortunately some groups get far more of it than others, and based on attributes that they don’t control. For all of us, a reminder to be brave and that others are being brave alongside us is a powerful thing, and helps us to be brave. This album is that reminder.
Update: The album is now available on iTunes, and you can look forward to having Tori tour in the US in 2014. 🙂
Tracks: Brightside, Dear John, Be Brave, Nights Like That, Wooden Decks, Game Changer, Neon Lights, Some Sort of Grace, Grand Delusions, Where Did I Go?, Zombie Song, Love Of Folk