ALBUM REVIEW: Painted Shield – Painted Shield 2

7/10

ALBUM REVIEW: Painted Shield – Painted Shield 2

The Pandemic caused many established bands to rethink and adjust their writing and recording process to continue producing music. While in-person sessions were off the cards, modern technology allowed musicians to produce records without meeting. Painted Shield, however, was a project born during the first lockdown, with several members having never played together before. The project led to their self-titled debut album, released in 2020, which was met with acclaim for its energy and wide-ranging textures of sound.

The group comprises of Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, prolific singer-songwriter Mason Jennings, one of the most in-demand session drummers of the last thirty years in Matt Chamberlain, and Seattle soul sensation Brittany Davis.

Painted Shield 2 came about in similar circumstances to their debut album, with members tracking their parts at their home studios across the U.S. Their latest offering builds on the eclectic foundations that were laid on their debut to offer an assembly of well-produced, emotive songs on an album that successfully manages to navigate several genres.

Epic opener ‘Drink The Ocean’ immediately introduces the drumming talents of Chamberlain, building up to a frenetic Gossard guitar solo. ‘Alien’ then offers a more electronic feel with the use of synthesizers aiding the song’s mystical vibe. In another genre twist, ‘Til God Turns The Lights On’ gives the record a funk flavour, complimented with the groove of the guitar riff, and Brittany Davis offers a soulful tone to the chorus. Davis has described the band’s willingness to explore different sounds as “assassination of genre”.

The changes in sound continue with ‘Bird’s Nest’, which is a gentle, acoustic track with soft vocals provided by Jennings and Davis throughout before being brought to a steady close with ethereal harmonies. ‘Fourth of July’ carries on the acoustic style with a finger-picked opening, building to the mid-point of the song, where the tone suddenly shifts to a heavy rock chorus. These shifts make the record so captivating; around every corner, there springs a surprise.

The addictive ‘Dead Man’s Dream’ opens with a recognisable Stone Gossard riff. Jennings originally wrote the lyrics for a folk song but wondered how they would work against a heavy rock bed, saying, “we all sang in the choruses and channelled our love for Van Halen”. Brittany Davis is then given centre stage with the record’s main soul offering ‘Life in Rewind’, a heartfelt song sung from the perspective of a partner pleading for a second chance.

The album then shifts back to a heavier focus with ‘Fallin’ Out The Sky’, a garage-rock inspired number with a dark tone. The pace again slows with the bittersweet ‘White’, which provides some of the album’s most haunting lyrics, centred around a car crash in which a loved one is killed. The bluntly delivered line, “And my girl is dead”, provides one of the most powerful moments on the album. The record closes on a subtle, calming note with ‘Full Moon in Daylight’. After such an assault through various genres, it provides the perfect come down, easing the band’s second offering to a close with gentle keys and piano.

There’s a unique energy to Painted Shield 2; on the surface, it may seem as though it was just a project to keep the creative juices flowing when the world was locked down, but it is proving to be so much more. Jennings has acknowledged this, saying, “I’m so inspired by working with such inspiring, creative people...I haven’t done anything like this before.” Painted Shield have laid solid foundations for future records. One of the main takeaways from their second album is the wonderment of what they may offer next. With members able to meet and perform live shows together, there’s a sense that they can only get better. The future seems bright for the band. With Jennings teasing, “we’re halfway through ‘Album Three’”, you sense the best is yet to come.

1 Comment

  1. "Epic opener ‘Drink The Ocean’ immediately introduces the drumming talents of Chamberlain, building up to a frenetic Gossard guitar solo."

    This is incorrect. While it is an amazing solo, it is played by Brittany Davis not Gossard.

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