Shane Natalie slows it down for another album of shaggy, uptempo rockers
In the past, Shane Natalie, who records solo as Good Shade, has buried his vocals under layers of distorted guitar and sonic fuzz, only to turn around and speak candidly about the lyrical meaning in his songs. (For example, Natalie told Alive he penned the politically charged 2017 album Lunch in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election based on what he viewed as a worst-case scenario.)
With the newly released Way Out (Dirtnap Records), Natalie has changed his approach, setting his comparatively crisp vocals more prominently in the foreground while demurring in interviews.
“It's actually about stuff going on in my life that I can't really get into currently,”Natalie said before relenting and offering a few vague details. “I was trying to tell more of a story with this album. … It's being stuck in a certain position and navigating the feelings of like, ‘How do I get out of this?' A couple people have asked me if it's about a relationship, and I could see how people would think that. Even my girlfriend approached me and was like, ‘People are gonna think this is about us,' and I was like, ‘Well, it's really not.'”
Throughout the shaggy, effortlessly infectious, guitar-fueled effort, Natalie's thoughts are frequently tangled, the musician wrestling with confusion, anxiety and self-doubt, singing: “I have never been so lost”; “My mind is always halfway in the water”; “There's a chunk that takes a toll. … It'll all be over soon.”
Clarity arrives in the form of the album-closing “Where To,” on which these accumulated knotted thoughts finally un-kink, giving way to a wide-open future. “Let's go anywhere we want,” Natalie sings as his guitar swoops and dives, for once seemingly untethered.
While the tempos on the record are almost universally propulsive, Natalie said he made a conscious effort to slow things down creatively for Way Out, spending more time writing and refining rather than rushing headlong into the next batch of tunes.
“For a while, I kind of overdid it, so I've kind of pumped the brakes,” said Natalie, who will be supported by Patrick Matanle on bass and Chris Mengerink on drums for a record release show at Ace of Cups on Thursday, March 14. “Usually when a record comes out, I already have another new record, and I already hate what I've put out, and it's time to put out a new thing. But I really like this record, and I'm excited just to learn all the songs with Patrick and Chris and play it live and focus on it and then let whatever writing comes next just kind of happen naturally.”
One thing Natalie wasn't about to give up, though, was his creative solitude. The musician said that writing and recording on his own is a boon to his short attention span, allowing him to tinker with a track, set it aside and then return to it hours later without having to worry about wasting someone else's time. It also placates his control freak tendencies.
“I usually have a full song finished in my head, and it's hard for me to delegate to somebody else when I know the way I want it to sound,” he said. “Even if, based on the equipment I have, it doesn't always end up recorded the way I wanted.”