Album Review: Jack Shields – Leaving California EP (January Battle of the Bands Winner)

Jack Shields has a really interesting classic rock vibe to his music. He reminds me a little bit of Tom Petty, honestly. The cracks in his voice and authentic lyrics feel like the real deal. It’s easy to hear why our astute readers voted him the winner of the battle of the bands.

“Cop Car Kids” has a cool groove to it. It’s about getting into trouble and just wanting to get home. It’s got a direness to it. There’s an apparent drug element to the song, so it’s not for all audiences. That said, the crying out on the bridge for “mercy” is one of the coolest lyrical-musical matches we’ve heard in a long time.

“Emma” has a cool vibe to it as well. It feels more like 90s alt rock. The lyrics roll on about spending time with someone and enjoying life. It’s definitely a chill track. The title track “Leaving California” is the one that has garnered Shields the most attention. It’s the track with the style most “ETTG” if you will, so we enjoy the way the acoustic highlights the lead vocal. The full sound serves to highlight some fascinating Jackson Browne-esque lyricism. This is what modern folk rock sounds like and we love it.

The final two tracks remind me of what I first enjoyed about Noah Gundersen when I discovered his music years ago. It’s total artistry from an individual who clearly sees the world through an artist’s eyes. There’s a psych rock element to “Unfamiliar Driveways” that works really well. Then the final track “May You All” has this little electric guitar hook that works super well. It’s like the perfect DNA for a folk rock song; a nice simple guitar lick, some crescendoing big drums, and then stunning lyricism to drive it all home. It’s one of the best total rock songs I’ve heard in a long time.

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