Shanna Underwood | Fieldnotes From a Caravan

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Fieldnotes From a Caravan

by Shanna Underwood

A melodic compilation of worldly travel stories told with a bluesy voice and a merry band of Americana pickers.
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
Release Date: 

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1. There Was a Town
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3:21 $0.99
2. From Appalachia to the Himalayas
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4:31 $0.99
3. Venus Burns
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3:10 $0.99
4. Dusty Books
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3:20 $0.99
5. Dream Next to Me
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3:49 $0.99
6. Small City Walls
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4:21 $0.99
7. Picket Fences
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4:38 $0.99
8. Move Along
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3:38 $0.99
9. Willingly
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4:44 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
There Was a Town, From Appalachia to the Himalayas, where Venus Burns among Dusty Books. Dream Next to Me between Small City Walls and Picket Fences. Then Move Along, Willingly.

A collection of stories and melodies written in Nepal, Maine, West Virginia, Thailand, and Nashville.

In 2007, Shanna lived in Bode, Bhaktapur, Nepal as an English Instructor. She wrote Move Along the first night there in a hotel room, excited about a new adventure, but longing for a person who two who was left behind. Appalachia to the Himalayas was also written there, but really embodies the seasons of her home state of Maine, and a love that never happened.

From Nepal, she took an archaeology gig in West Virginia, where There Was a Town was written. The small town atmosphere, falling out of love with a perfectly good person, and grappling with a new found sense of perspective led to the ideas.

Dusty Books was written as a tribute to Ray Bradbury's Fariegnheit 451. A lone man wonders what else is out there in the world. A common theme throughout all the songs, but particularly clear in Picket Fences, "I want to live in the world/ not behind a white picket fence/ I'm not afraid of change/ and I don't pretend to know what love is."


Shanna Underwood - vocals, songwriting, acoustic guitar
Chirs Clawson - stand-up bass
Eric Elsner - drums/percussion
Josh Pessar - electric guitar and acoustic guitar
Moriah Harris - fiddle/vocals
Joe Bloom - Harmonica
Kevin Gordon - electric guitar
Troy Jones - drums/percussion
Dan Schaefer - vocals

"There is yearning in her voice as she sings her songs, an authentic sounding yearning that we need to hear more of.

So, some day, take a moment to sit down and listen to Shanna Underwood’s music. Think back about your own travels, and where you want to be going. It will help put things in perspective." Aldon Hynes, Orient Lodge Music Blog

"Grim and Gritty, unpolished acoustic music; think of a dark bar with the settled smoke lingering about eye-level and a bleary-eyed bartender just as drunk as you. Shanna Underwood with her smoky and sexy voice and lonely, world weary songs, possesses that unmistakable quality that made Bonnie Raitt's early records so singular. She's the woman with the better chops than the boys and with whom they're all in love."
The Beer Guy - Face Magazine




Reviews


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Bob McKillop

Music to Travel the World By
Shanna Underwood’s new CD, “Fieldnotes From a Caravan”, includes nine songs that showcase her brassy, working-girl vocals and her original melodies. The full arrangements on these tracks include some excellent guitar work by Underwood herself, as well as some great contributions by a band of very talented friends from Nashville and Maine.

My favorite song on this album is “There Was a Town”, which I originally thought was about Portland, Maine, but alas, is not! Moriah Harris provides a nice fiddle line that runs through this tune, underlying the melody and bringing out an Appalachian mood. Underwood’s alternating bass line and strum on her acoustic provides a solid folk and country foundation. The bass line by Chris Clawson is in the back of the mix, very subtle, but it makes itself known where it is needed. The arrangement and mix on this track is very representative of the work throughout the disc – full, but nicely balanced, and with Shanna’s vocals taking center stage.

Shanna’s lyrical skills are at their best when she finds sensory allegories and proxies for the experiences and characterizations that she wants to convey. In this song, she sings about a town that “started small, Smelled like saltwater and smoke in the fall”. When that town changes, or when life changes around you, she advises:

“You’ve got to love that town for what it is
And find a little happiness”

“Venue Burns” has an almost rockabilly feel to it, with a bright beat, and some spooky, wet electric guitar work by Kevin Gordon. There’s an introspective, retrospective mood, with allusions to old friends, freedom, and loss, set against the movement of planets in the sky.

“Dream Next to Me” is a nice, down-tempo ballad with a great loping melody and beat. Harris’s fiddle lends some melancholy highlights to the chorus. I heard a story in the lyric about a day shared by lovers who know they will soon part, and they both know why, and why that’s best, but maybe just for today, they will be in denial.

I want to call out Portlander Jo Bloom, who contributes his expert harmonica work on a few of these songs, especially the very blues-tinged “Dusty Books”. Joe has worked with Shanna for years, and he knows how to bring her songs to life with emotion and color. We are very lucky in Maine to have a guy like Joe blowing harp for us.

Eric Elsner and Troy Jones provide the solid drum and percussion work for these tracks, Josh Pessar adds some electric and acoustic guitar, and Dan Schaefer backs Shanna with some nicely positioned harmony vocals. The disc was recorded by Azal Khan, and mastered by Andrija Tokic at The Bomb Shelter in Nashville, Tenn. All of these folks have done a great job for Shanna, and their efforts have resulted in a record that is very professional, well produced, and easy to listen to.

Shanna credits Maine as the basis for one or two of these songs, but she says that most of the material comes from her experiences traveling the globe, including Nepal, Thailand, Korea, Eastern Europe, and various parts of North America. She does give a boatload of songwriting inspirational credit to Kathy Hussey’s songwriting circle in Nashville.

I’ve known Shanna since back in the days when she helped to start and grow the Maine Songwriters Association. She did a lot for folks involved in the local Maine music scene over the years, before moving on; she now lives in Nashville, when she’s not traveling the world. It’s great to see her new CD come home to Portland; I hope that you will buy a copy and give it a listen.