The Devil To Pay

by Brett Shady

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about

The opening track of singer-songwriter Brett Shady’s solo debut is very good (especially for the terrific lyric “For every somebody somewhere in love / there’s somebody else”), but it’s the defeated loneliness of the second track, “Jerome, AZ” that sets the album’s emotional hook. Shady sings of giving up on his big city dream and heading for open skies. But even though he didn’t give up on his own big city dream, his initial discontent with Los Angeles, born of the dislocation and culture shock felt by a gold country immigrant provides much of the album’s emotional fuel.

Shady seems to have finally made himself at home in Southern California, but at the time he wrote these songs, his lack of connection became the locus of his songwriting. Like many lovelorn pop songwriters, he balances himself on the edge of self-pity and self-strength, wallowing in the darkness but mindful that the sun still shines on the other side of his drawn curtains. Shady follows in a long line of rock musicians whose later years led them away from the outward-bound excess of rock and punk to the introspective songwriting of folk and Americana. Dana Gumbiner’s production nicely balances a minimum of studio decorations with Shady’s simple combo of guitar, bass, drums, and banjo, leaving room for the lyrics to be heard and felt.

Shady first latched onto music as a child, and looking back to acts from the ‘50s and early ‘60s in the craft of “Darling.” He suggests the song is seeded in Ivory Joe Hunter’s “Since I Met You Baby,” which you can certainly hear in the piano figure, but the vocal seems more heavily influenced by doo-wop crooning. Winningly, the production gives the whole song an indie-pop feel, which makes the ‘50s influences play more like ghosts. Shady’s country antecedents can be heard in the shuffle beat of “Red House Plea,” but here again the song takes off in an original direction with strummed guitars, a meandering banjo and an imploring vocal whose high tone suggests Don McLean and the Avett Brothers.

What’s immediately apparent in listening to these performances is the difference between a band album and a songwriter’s album with a band. There’s a singleness of tone here that you don’t often find in collaboratively written material. There’s also a sensibility in the combination of disparate musical influences – waltzing country, folk strumming, pop melodies, 50s balladry, indie-pop – that could only come from a single head full music listening. It all tumbles out so seamlessly as to make it look simple; but making music that’s both familiar and new – catchy to the ear on first spin but without feeling like a rehash of something you’ve heard before – is a nearly impossible trick, and one that Shady has managed on his first solo outing. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

credits

released August 10, 2010

Brett Shady: Guitar, lead vocals
Ehren Haas: Lead guitar
Lee Bob Watson: Lead guitars/ piano
Jason Graham: Bass, banjo and backup vocals
David Nicholson: Drums
Adam Kline: Guitar, percussion, backup vocals, piano
Dana Gumbiner: Backup vocals, percussion, etc.
Matt Wedgley: Percussion, backup vocals
Krista Hager: Backup vocals
Alison Schmidt: Backup vocals
Ski Taylor: Backup vocals


All songs written by Brett Shady
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Dana Gumbiner at Station to Station Recording, Grass Valley, CA
Cover photo: Ian Grant Photography - www.distinctphoto.com

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Track Name: Somebody Else
I got a friend
Gives me advice
But I ain’t buying what he’s
Selling this time
It’s not quite that simple, I say
I wish you were right
There must be a reason
Why I’m up every night

For every somebody somebody somebody
Somewhere in love
There’s somebody else

I don’t want perfection
I don’t ask for the world
I wouldn’t even want it as it is
But I’d kill for someone
Somebody to take for granted
I’ve heard that there’s someone for us all

For every somebody somebody somebody
Somewhere in love
There’s somebody else

When all of our nighttimes
Start adding up
When only half the stars still shine
I lie awake and I count
All the remaining ones
And wonder how many I’ll spend alone

For every somebody somebody somebody
Somewhere in love
Somebody somebody somebody
Somewhere in love
For every somebody somebody somebody
Somewhere in love
There’s somebody else
Track Name: Jerome, AZ
I’m sorta sad to say
But this is where my stay in Hollywood ends
Southern California may be lovely
If you’re into making friends
We’ve all got ideas and opinions
Of what it means to be alive
I don’t want to add mine to the garbage can
I just want to drive

So I’m headed for Jerome

I was near to victory
The moment that I landed in town
I don’t want to perish here
Before I have a chance to look around
Seems that I’ve been fighting for survival
Through these endless seven years
I just want to be where I can see
The horizon bright and clear

So I’m headed for Jerome
Where I can keep an eye on my home

There’s nothing much of mine I could repair
But it’ll all be different over there
Way up high where God can see me

I want a place where I’m free to roam
Late at night on the empty roads below
And I want a place to call my own
And I want to see the world I’ve known
So I’m on my way to the hillside of Jerome
Where I can keep an eye on my home
Track Name: Darling
Darling
I’m the one who’s been calling
I’m the one who’s been driving all night
To sunlight
Baby
You’re been making me crazy
You’ve been making all the stoplights that face me
Hazy

Driving past signs of the fall
If you look real hard you can see them all

Darling
I’m the one who’s been calling
Without you, I’ll continue to
Keep falling

There’s only two things I can do
I can drive on forever or stay with you

Darling
Oh Darling
Track Name: She Ain't Worth It
Broken window
Summer blowin’
Looking down at the heart he’s stolen
Way too young
To keep it quiet
Son, meet heartbreak
Can’t go home
Can’t go nowhere
His warm heart can’t keep the beat in the cold air
He stands gutted
He stands defeated
By the one thing he was living for

From snowy streets
Followed blindly
The broken English smoke signals find me
The only light
Around for miles
But where is it now
Does it still shine as brightly
Is it still saving souls from a death in the vacant sea
‘Cause some nights I notice
Something I brought home with me

But let it go, kid
No one’s looking at you
I know it hurts like hell
When she walks away
We’ve all had that day
Nothing’s worth going back to

But let it go, kid
No one’s looking at you
I know it hurts like hell
When she walks away
We’ve all had that day
Nothing’s worth going back to
Track Name: I'll Try
The more I see what the world is about
The more I decided to shut it all out
But whenever I see faces outside my door
I think I know now who to open it for

You keep me in mind
You keep me in mind, so I’ll try

The warnings they gave me are all coming true
It took me ten years to decide what to do
And I tried to pass on the warning to you
I said you might want to think about leaving

But you keep me in mind
You keep me in mind, so I’ll try
You keep me in mind, so I’ll try hard to keep you in mine

And some nights I’m not gonna call
And I got nowhere left to fall
Boy, you’ve done some dumb things in your life
But this beats ‘em all

You keep me in mind
You keep me in mind, so I’ll try
You keep me in mind so I’ll try hard to keep you in mine
Track Name: Red House Plea
Come, the wind is blowing
A bit too hard tonight
I’m not as young as I used to be
To try to stay and fight
There’s nothing out there calling your name
But the world is ending in the place
The world, for you, began
Whenever things would get too dark
You would take me by the hand
But once when you were looking my way
You looked beyond me
And from that sad moment on
My fist could stop an army

Don’t , please don’t remind me
Of things I might have done
Here I stand before you a different man
A different day’s begun
I won’t let him take you away
But I kept you in the dark
For a reason
And without you, my world is cold
My lonely heart is freezing
I gave you all the warmth that it had
And now it’s in the back of your mind
One look at who you’re leaving behind
And you’re gone
Gone

Slowly drown away the sorrow
Drown away the love I used to feel
Drown away the way I’ll feel tomorrow
Let this water wash away the emptiness inside
I should have known
I could never hide anything from you
You

Oh darkness, take me
Track Name: Waltz For a Girl In South Carolina
Keep all the old days behind you
So you don’t have to wonder where they’ve gone
Stay where the sadness can’t find you
‘Til the sadness is done

Keep looking up for salvation
Just in case it passes and what they believed was right
Even if all it provides is some sleep for the night

There’s a girl in South Carolina
Standing in the sweet summer wind
A girl in South Carolina
That I’ll never talk to again

Some east coast landfill is covered
In things that we’ve all thrown away
And it was just a cup of coffee at the end of the day

But there’s a girl in South Carolina
Standing in the sweet summer wind
A girl in South Carolina
That I’ll never stand by again

What did she want from me
Why does she care
I still think of her fondly
Does she wish I was there

I can’t drink, I can’t smoke
I got nowhere to hide
Said I can’t drink, I can’t smoke
My mind cannot erase

My girl in South Carolina
Oh my girl in South Carolina
Track Name: When You Open Your Eyes
No sorrow inside these walls tonight
No shadows to overtake the steady light
So sleep, and when the sun is bright
I’ll be by your side

I’ve learned some lessons I can pass along
But there are things that I have done all wrong
But every inch of every road I’ve walked upon
Has taken me to you

All is quiet on a cold, grey morning
Sun reluctant to rise
How I pray you’ll love what you see
When you open your eyes

All is quiet on a cold, grey morning
Sun reluctant to rise
How I pray you’ll love what you see
When you open your eyes
No one has ever caught me
No song I’ve sung has rung so true
Do what you will with my love
I saved it all for you

I saved it all for you
Track Name: God, Change The Laws Of The World
God, change the laws of this world for me
I finally decided who I want to be
But now all I’m asking’s the time back to me
God, change the laws of this world

I get the point about not wasting time
You’ve made some lives examples, now you’re fucking with mine
If it’s true that you made the stars and the Earth
God, change the laws of this world

I promise I will never ask for nothin’ again
Believe me

God, change the laws of this mess that you made
We fear for the darkness that ends the parade
You got our attention, you made us behave
Now God, change the laws of this world

I promise I won’t ever ask for nothin’ again
Believe me
I promise I will talk you up to all of my friends
Believe me

I know in the past
I said some terrible things, but they were mainly for laughs
If you can prove you were listening
I’ll take ‘em all back
God, change the laws of this world
Track Name: Angels, Ghosts & Demons
Blackened walls and
Crooked doorways
Muddy streets
Ghosts of the old days
This is our town we built with our hands
He’s a stranger
And she’s the one he wants
She tries to sleep
Inside the room he haunts
Lights are flickering, raging midnight

He walks the streets
Inside an endless fog
Searching hard for any tracks
From those who’ve chosen wrong
Inside, the sound of drunken laughter
The booze was flowing
Three cheers for me and you
A toast to all of us
And everything that we do
Our yellow light, surrounded by a deep dark sky

But later in the night
Through the corner of my eye
I saw shadows moving by
I heard rumbling outside
Keep the music going, man
We got each other, we’ll be fine

And we sang:
Never mind the morningtime
The morning’s never coming
There’s still so much for us to do tonight
The spirits in our bottles mix with spirits in our hearts
And take us over

The wind was howling
And we would laugh it off
Rain was filling up the streets
Mildew and dry rot
The silent prowler welcomed everything
The day, it broke
And woke a tired town
Bloodshot eyes looked on our stomping ground
They knew this was where it ended

The lawmen came around
The banners all came down
And we left our little town to the angels
But time has rotted angels into demons
And they’ve tracked me down
Time has rotted angels into demons
And they follow me around


Please,
You ain’t got the best of me.