Shannon Tower Band
For What It’s Worth
The Shannon Tower Band surveys similar socio-political minefields and aggro-folk textures as Ani DiFranco and Michelle Shocked. Based in Oregon, Tower injects the Pacific Northwest coffeehouse circuit with jagged edges, giving a punky spin on leftist protest music (“Power Play,” “24 Seconds”) as well as finding a bluesy heart in unplugged confessionals (“Bad Cycles,” “Just Like You”).
The Shannon Tower Band isn’t a group in name only. Guitarist Grant Warrens and electric violinist Jeff Sullivan contribute weight and drama to Tower’s songs. The chemistry between all three of them is pretty electrifying. On the opening cut, “Bad Cycles,” Warren’s bluesy riffs and Sullivan’s thrillingly atmospheric violins increase the dramatic tension in Tower’s agitated delivery. “But all you do is criticize/ All the things that make me happy,” Tower blasts her ex-lover on “Bad Cycles,” singing through gritted teeth. The anti-war number “Power Play” thankfully ventures beyond Air America-esque diatribes and tries to inspire people to be vocal about their opposition. Tower’s two-fisted talk-singing in “24 Seconds” adds a streetwise authenticity to the tune; the best folk music is from everyday people themselves, and that seems to be what Tower is aiming for artistically with this cut.
The mournful violins and gorgeously strummed acoustic guitars of “Lost Girl” delivers one of the most poignant moments on the record while “Such Men” crackles with scorching riffs and stirring strings. Even when Tower sounds royally pissed, her music is quite pretty throughout.
Shannon Tower Band: www.shannontowerband.com