James Clelland, the mind behind Shining Through and Shapeshifter EP, is an artist wearing a proud, pierced soul. By unhinging his warbling, temperamental cry, these songs about what he thinks about himself and what he thinks other people think about him are delivered with an acute nakedness. Clelland lets loose. Hair down, lyrics disjointed, charging opener "I Owe You That" alternates between the punching chorus line "Do I owe you that / I don't owe you that" (provided by Brian Warren of Weatherbox) and explorations of lost and high thoughts.
This EP is the latest installment in the Shining Through band project Clelland's been tinkering with for years. It follows 2007's Man Vs. Wild seven-track EP, a small gem of Clelland's mental scribblings. But as an even smaller gem, Shapeshifter is only three tracks. Nonetheless, it masters the off-kilter melodies and loose timing of his quirky indie rock "sound". Sprinkling and sharp guitar parts of "Dancin' Round The Devil" or the end of "I Owe You That", for example, are accidentally endearing. It's as though he threw his crunchy guitar notes in the air and kept them exactly where they landed. The combination of this freedom and Clelland's overall unrelenting outpouring is liberating. We see this with the softer tune "You" too, except that the pulsating, questioning progression of melody and gentle female background vocals are timid. This is the sweetened end to little bit of self-reflection.
Trotting gracefully on it's own two left feet, Shapeshifter is as close to a career success as a three-song EP can be; it shows Clelland has grown confident with his musicianship. The question remains whether or not a full-length could now preserve the off-the-cuff energy that makes Shining Through. Until we get that answer, Shapeshifter can only really be an awesome taste.
Christie DuPree - younger sister to the Eisley girls. She did a song with Jeff Pianki so I checked out her solo stuff and golly, it's beautiful. She has a wonderful voice. I downloaded the songs on her MySpace and ripped some from her YouTube videos. It's definitely worth a listen: