One of the best things about Brian Shapiro's newest album is that it's not bound by conventional genre standards. In a lot of ways it could very much be described as experimental and with Shapiro's gruff unrestrained voice that has hints of a Tom Wait's influence, it really helps create one of the most memorable music experiences I've had this year. Shapiro has certainly led an eclectic life that's always be intertwined with music, his who worked in the industry allowed Brian to be privy to experience plenty would kill for including watching Stevie Nicks's work.
He's the type to be forthcoming and say that it was in no way a glamourous experience because lest we forget, music is still a business. This didn't kill his love and his appreciation for the avant-garde and jazz musings certainly played an influence you can see splattered across this album like he were a sonic Jackson Pollack. The opening of the album is certainly jarring with Brian's harsh vocals blasting at you with dense percussion and a sliding bass and guitar, it kind of lets you know right off the back to expect the unexpected. Mileage may vary naturally if this kind of performative, unconventional style is your thing, but it might be a gateway for others to search other types of music that have influenced Shapiro from the light country musings of a duet he shares to the French inspired finale.
The album in a lot of ways has a "Wall of Sound" quality to it in that everything is dialed to eleven, sometimes for good and bad. Shapiro's vocals while distinct can sometimes be drowned out by some uneven mixing and because of that, sometimes the instrumentals are a bit harsh. The lyrical content is sometimes both incredibly simple and a bit more esoteric (see the final song for that) but it's a unique balance that allows each song to stand on its own as a memorable experience. A lot of Shapiro's collaborators on the tracks have plenty of time to shine with some stellar guitar and drum work as a special highlight, and even with the aggressive Phil Spector like design, even listening with regular speakers allows you to pick up subtleties and the little additional bells and whistles that Shapiro has adorned this album with. Nearly every song on the album comes from a deeply personal place with Shapiro acting as the narrator of these pivotal thoughts of life that he's experienced and I think that's what allows the visceral performance to really do a lot of the heavy lifting even if it doesn't sound conventionally "pretty".
I know I've used this word a lot, but it is undoubtedly an experience, and one I'm glad to have gone on with Brian. He shows a clear candid appreciation from the music of all walks of life and continues to innovate his style in a way that's fresh and potentially ahead of the curve since he's not attempting to duplicate what he's influenced by. If this is "All That We See", the view isn't half bad.
We do music reviews for Independent Artists and Publicists.