The storyline — mysterious, surprising and ultimately tragic. The music — haunting and familiar, though at the same time, unexpected, like the subject matter. What begins as a classic couple’s argument in bed turns into something more ominous and forbidden. This stunning miniature film noir for “Now You Know” is from Michael Shaw’s new project, An Intimate Evening with Michael Shaw. It was the final cut on his debut solo album, released in May, called This Is It. This breathtaking psychedelic journey strongly conjures Roger Waters and Pink Floyd with its soaring lead guitar, phase-shifting effects and dramatic vocals.
The album overall is bright and melodic, bursting with intimacy and warmth that celebrates the proud pop songwriting tradition of ’60s and ’70s artists like the Beatles, Queen, Badfinger, Electric Light Orchestra and the Beach Boys, a melding of influences from his Northern Ireland roots and time spent living in London and the San Francisco area. For as upbeat as it sounds musically, a closer listen to the lyrics uncovers darker emotions. In fact, Shaw wrote the album while isolated in a rented cottage in his birthplace of Antrim on the north coast of Ireland, where, as he said, he “surrendered himself to the solitude.” Back in California, he recorded his new music with bassist Colin Schlitt and drummer Kenneth Hard, two frequent collaborators, and guitarist Eli Nelson. It was a particularly difficult time for him, as his mother was diagnosed with cancer, and the album was recorded a week after she died.
Naming his band An Intimate Evening with Michael Shaw certainly puts the pressure on to deliver something heartfelt, honest and true, which he delivers on 100%. As Shaw himself said, “I felt that I needed to kind of address some of the stuff that was going on around me and happening to me at that time, otherwise it would kind of fall short. I would just let stuff pour out of me. I think solitude enables that, if you’re just hanging out with yourself and you don’t have any distraction.
You allow yourself…you just become more free when you’re able to do that when nobody’s there listening to you. I think it just blends into more pure lyrical content.”