Shearwaters music lights up my life in so many ways, I can hardly think of a track they have done that doesn’t find a place with me. Always exquisitely played, with immaculate production, through it all shines the extraordinary voice of Jonathan Meiberg – swooping and soaring, operatic, clean as glass, distinctive and defining.
Live they are a wonder, bringing yet more facets to their music. And they tour a fair amount, sometimes supporting, sometimes supported. From this experience has come a range of artists and their music that has connected with the band, and this latest (short) album, is a sort of recognition of some they have worked with, hence the Fellow Travelers title. A title with even greater resonance when you consider the Trotsky use of the phrase and its implications: ‘someone who does not accept all your aims but has enough in common with you to accompany you in a comradely fashion part of the way.’
So a collection of covers ranging from Xiu Xiu, to Coldplay (yes really), from Wye Oak to Clinic. So perhaps a little of a ‘my, look at the artists I know and like’ but at least you get to hear a few out-of-the-way songs as a result.
The album is booked-ended with two of the best tracks, a fragile and lovely take on Jessca Hoops, Our Only Sun and the closer and personal favourite, Fucked Up Life originally from the Baptist Generals. In between are other gems, among them the Xiu Xiu track I Luv the Valley OH and the only new song, the Sharon van Etten duet A Wake for the Minotaur.
This is an album of gentle and insidious charms, understandably without the punch of new Shearwater material but with honest and affectionate renditions of music the band loves. All delivered in an authentic and genuine fashion with the masterly musicianship and that inspiration voice.