Shaddox’s heartfelt new album, I Melt, I Howl, is that product of change. It marks a remarkable journey for the singer, who during his musical travels has shared the stage with innumerable rock, country and folk legends—and won a few Best Americana awards in the process.
But that was then. Long before his remarkable new record, Shaddox knew he needed change. His mind and body were giving him clues that he wasn’t on the right path.
First change: a little while back, he went solo. “I wore a lot of hats in different bands,” the singer explains. “But if I’m going to pursue this passion, I shouldn’t hide behind anything. It should my name out there.” He laughs. “It’ll be my creativity fighting with my analytical nature. That’s all there, front and center, along with my influences.”
So Shaddox went at it alone, first recording an album (Golden Fate) and an EP. He also left his day job as a civil engineer and moved from Southern California to the mountains of Colorado. “My inspiration’s always been heightened by nature,” Shaddox explains. “It gives me the time and space to accommodate the creative process.”
Going solo also allowed Shaddox the freedom to explore his vast array of influences how he saw fit. Since his early band days, he had tagged his sound “Cosmic American Music,” a moniker originally pegged to the psychedelic/country musings of the Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds.
“I don’t think I’m a folk musician, as I’m sometimes labeled,” he says. “I have many different influences. My dad was in a bluegrass band, and he was a big influence on me. But I was really steeped in the sounds of country and rock. And I discovered bands like Wilco later on. It’s always been a pretty wide musical palette.”
“For me, it’s really about honoring the styles of the past, but taking it a new level and making them my own.”
I Melt, I Howl captures those influences nicely, as well as the energy (and fear) of his big life changes. The pop sensibility of the title track and 70s Cali easy rock of “Feels Like Home” work in tandem with “Leaves In Autumn,” an upbeat shuffle that fades to a melancholy haze, and extended jams like the harmonica-fueled closer “Not Easy Anymore.”
For the first time, Shaddox trusted his vision to an outsider; he enlisted producer Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim), recording up in his studio in Maine. “I’m a big fan of his work,” says the singer. “And it was great having somebody else’s ideas and vision at work. It made me really open to change.”
That word again: change. Which is also reflected in his new album’s title, I Melt, I Howl.
You see, Shaddox—an avid sportsman—was inspired after a mountain accident where he (ouch) shattered his pelvis. “All I wanted to do after that was be mobile and run,” he says. “So that song, and album title, is about opening up your heart so big and taking what the world gives you.”
“And howling: it’s the greatest physical action you can do. It’s about letting your voice out and showing the world what you’re made of.”
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