Humble Tripe is the work of love belonging to Shawn Luby, a Carolina-based lifetime musician who spent much of his life competing in the classical guitar arena. He won many of these competitions and achieved prominence as a very talented young musician. Despite his skills, Luby chose to pursue a career in clinical laboratory science. He left his guitar on the shelf to collect dust and ran off to pursue his dreams. Nearly ten years passed before Shawn realized that the music he had left behind was truly his passion. He picked his guitar back up and felt a swell of humility deep in his gut. Humble Tripe was born of that humility. The Giving is the second album featuring Shawn and his cohorts, the ultra talented Stud Green and Melissa York.
“November” is about the difficulty of leaving a relationship, despite the rollercoaster of pain and euphoria. “Pick me up. Throw me down, and I’ll come running right back ‘round. See, it’s hard to see how I could ever leave.” The melody is quiet and organic. Luby’s gentle guitar, some quiet percussion. The music builds a bit over the course of the song, painting the landscape brighter and fuller. Shawn Luby’s voice is like wine, the other voices are like honey. They swirl together into something richly satisfying.
My favorite song on the album is “Carnival Song”. The melody haunting and intense. It begins feeling desolate. It’s the desert. Empty and gleaming, mountains loom in the distance. As the song builds, the entire ocean crashes onto it. Surges, waves, sinking ships, entire whales being tossed around in the glorious turmoil which has overtaken the forsaken Mojave. But the turmoil is beautiful, being orchestrated by haunting voices in tight harmonies, expertly wielded guitar, guidance, excellent percussion, Green’s violin, and York’s melodica. Does anyone else think that the melodica is incredibly and tragically underutilized? The instrument is truly in its element here and it shines so bright. The lyrics tell a story of time passing, a carnival, rubies, winter: all full of songs to lift you up.
“Acrobat’s Affair” is a love song. “We have an acrobat’s affair, I’d follow you anywhere.” The lyrics are gorgeous.
They tell a story that feels like flowers blooming in early spring. The use of Green’s violin feels so poignant. The harmonies, oh the harmonies. These guys do not over-harmonize and it makes you so thankful for those gorgeous little moments of harmony when the other voices come in to pull Luby’s angelic crooning back down to a moment of earthiness. Melissa’s voice really shines here. The sweet, feminine sound of her voice accents perfectly, blending seamlessly.
I love everything about “Eryline”. The crisp guitar is different from the other songs, joined by a staccato-y piano. It’s upbeat, but still so gentle, so smooth, so delicious, almost alcoholic. Again, perfect harmonies. It tells another story of a relationship, maybe the beginning, maybe the end. It recounts a time when another person was the most important and most loved thing in life, but it may be time for something new or different now. It sounds so hopeful. It feels like running through the Rocky Mountains holding hands and jumping in puddles. It may or may not be the end of this relationship, but it’s the beginning of something amazing.
Choosing what songs I was going to cover for this article was really difficult, they’re all gorgeous. Each has its own unique sound ranging from ethereal to balladic to lullaby. There are so many influences at work and Shawn, Stud, and Melissa pull it all together so beautifully. I thought about just writing up all of them, but you would all get sick of me eventually. However, you will not get sick of Humble Tripe. Go to their website and download The Giving–you will not be disappointed.