In the year since folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Fitzwater and collaborator Jay Alton rounded up acquaintances Sam Ballinger and Nate Slemmer to form the Shambles during ComFest 2008, the band has been evolving at a rapid pace, transforming from a loose circle of hired guns into an honest-to-God rock band.

In the year since folk-rock singer-songwriter Josh Fitzwater and collaborator Jay Alton rounded up acquaintances Sam Ballinger and Nate Slemmer to form the Shambles during ComFest 2008, the band has been evolving at a rapid pace, transforming from a loose circle of hired guns into an honest-to-God rock band.

That evolution took its biggest step so far on "Our Flaws," the last song written and recorded for the band's debut Discourse and Remorse and, fittingly, the album's last track.

"If I gave that album to someone and they could only listen to one song, I would want it to be the last song," Fitzwater said. "I was proud of that one, and I felt like that was kind of a defining moment."

"Our Flaws" is the most direct summation of the themes surging through the rest of Discourse, which the band will release with a show Friday at The Treehouse featuring The Lost Revival and Karate Coyote.

The 26-year-old bandleader's inspiration sparked when he was reading a book about writing screenplays. The text's tips on plot and character development led him to Shakespeare (no doubt the influence behind album opener "Montagues and Capulets") and then to ancient Greece.

"Aristotle had this concept called hamartia, which is what Shakespeare based all his plays on, which is character flaw," Fitzwater explained. "Your '-ism,' whatever your idiosyncrasy is, actually ends up destroying you."

If the album's final track sees Fitzwater's fascination with tragic flaws coming to fruition, it also finds the Shambles grasping a firmer hold on arrangement and dynamics, delivering the singer's tales in the richer, more elegant fashion hinted at by "Don't Go" and "Coincidence Lies."

Not too elegant, though. This is still a folk-rock record with a distinct pop bent, as exemplified by the guitar crunch of "Exploiting a Feeling" and "Leave it Tonight."

The band is still sorting out its identity, but the members are making progress quickly. Fitzwater said he had no problem ceding solo artist levels of control in order to facilitate a more collaborative environment.

"We're all on the same page," Fitzwater said. "We all want the same thing."

When his bandmates reject one of his songs, he listens. When he unveils something that sticks, they study the lyrics and write their parts accordingly rather than just tossing something on the track.

Little by little, they're finding their feet, and they hope Friday's release show will be the next step on their climb upward.

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com