Shinn's latest offering is the album he needed to make and the one we needed to hear
Photo credit - L DG Lucia De Giovanni
One thing should be clear if you're a fan of Chris Shinn's solo work or when fronting Unified Theory or Live...he writes and sings with boundless emotion and allows the listener to ride shotgun on his personal, musical journey.
Falling Up, released on 11/1/22 (Black Cicada) is as much an unedited look into a man discovering new life as it is a sonic piece of art.
A short record, nine tracks that clock in at just under 37 minutes, Shinn manages to pour his heart and soul into each drumbeat, melody, and vocal cadence. It's not a record with room for filler. It's a declaration of a new way forward created with intent and precision.
Emerging from the pandemic, most of us had time to reflect on our lives, the good and the bad. It was then up to each one of us to decide what, if any, changes were going to be made. For the great majority of people, we don't display those thoughts on a record for the world to listen to and judge.
Chris Shinn took a different approach.
If you follow Shinn on social media, and you should, his fans were treated to nine posts (one per day leading up to the release, representing the nine tracks on the album) detailing some of his thoughts about the songs, what they meant to him, why they're on the record and even some trepidation about it all.
The post that I feel is the most pertinent is the one discussing the song "I'm Inside".
"My marriage ended at the very beginning of the pandemic. And while everyone else was making sourdough bread, I was busy becoming a master of dissociation. My music (this record) became my salvation.
My life raft.
At the time, I was riding my bike 400 to 500 miles a month. (pedaling). Among other crazy things, I would imagine the earth crumbling just behind my rear tire. It was during these rides that I began constructing this record. I wouldn’t be listening to any of it per se, just defining my intention and securing its direction.
Writing this now is odd. That pain is still very real but doesn’t sting anymore. My perspective has shifted back towards gratitude and I am in a very good place now. I want to make sure I convey that. This song, these songs, were how I dealt with that aching. They are not pain badges I hang on my chest like a depressed Boy Scout.
This song is transparent but not obvious. I’m Inside is definitely not about staying home." - Chris Shinn
The songs on Falling Up are confessions and prophecies all at the same time. The sounds range from tribal drumming to atmospheric instrumentation with space provided to get lost inside wherever the particular melody may take you.
Whether it's the hypnotic intro to the lead track "About Being Alone" or the Pink Floyd-esque darkness of the aforementioned "I'm Inside", every song on Falling Up has that unmistakable vocal beauty of Chris Shinn's unique singing style.
Shinn has the ability to fuse beauty, angst, and desperation through both his voice and melodic sensibilities that drive the listener deeper into their own conclusions of what these songs are about. Falling Up is the kind of record that begs for headphones and a comfortable space for which to take it all in.
The album has a very distinct feel and vibe to it. It's deliberate in its pace, and in my opinion, it needs to be. Selfishly speaking, there are times I wish there were more up-tempo tracks on Falling Up, but that would probably be a mistake. This is a journey several years in the making and coming from a place of loss and rebirth. That process takes time and the music certainly adheres to that philosophy.
I'd like to think that most of us can relate to self-reflection and contemplation after the last few years we've all had to battle through. Falling Up by Chris Shinn is a soundtrack for us to recover with.
Do not listen to this album because of what Shinn has done in the past, his work stands up incredibly well on its own. Instead, listen to Falling Up because of what Chris is offering now.