Visceral, ethereal, angelic, even hypnotic and yet grounded in the beats of the rhythm and bass lines, the folk/pop band SHEL brought it home at Hotel Café for an intimate show in Hollywood this past month before they headed off to Chicago. Each of the four sisters who make up SHEL are classically trained musicians and it shows. They are super skilled and varied in emotive individuality, and so tight and precise as a band. It is no wonder this group of twenty-something women are already critically acclaimed. Since the release of their self-titled debut CD in August 2012, they’ve been touring across the U.S. and Europe and their songs are being played in television shows, independent films and national TV commercials.
Preceding and then joining SHEL on stage at Hotel Café for a special performance with Eva to showcase their collaborative writing effort on “Hold On,” Irish singer/songwriter Gareth Dunlop brought a great new element to the evening. Eva and Gareth’s voices and style melded with enticing synchronicity. Their original song will be featured in the new Nicholas Sparks film, The Best of Me, which is due in theatres this week on October 17th. The song’s already available on the soundtrack for the film and stands uniquely as the only Americana track included among the other country music artists, Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, David Nail, Kip Moore and others.
“…infectious pop-folk-with-a-subtle-hint-of-indie songs…” –Erica Petri, LuckyMag.com (7/3/12)
“…ethereal harmonies, out-of-the-box melodies and remarkable musicianship.” –M Music & Musicians (May 2012)
“…appeals to fans of Nickel Creek & The Civil Wars.” –Brian Mansfield, USAToday.com (11/22/13)
“…virtuoso instrumental flights, other-worldly harmonies and evocative, atypical lyrics…” –Peter Cooper, The Tennessean (8/3/12)
“Ever wonder what would happen if you took the Dixie Chicks’ tight harmonies and then added them to the country cuteness of Taylor Swift times four? Well…that the answer is SHEL!” –Jenna Hally Rubenstein, MTV Buzzworthy (7/20/12)ééé
SHEL is an acronym for each of the insanely talented women: Sarah (violin), Hannah (keyboard), Eva (mandolin) and Liza (drums, djembe and beat boxing). Each of the girls brings their own individual personality and style to the stage. And, each brings a high level of musicianship. For a young group, raised on a farm in Fort Collins, Colorado, it’s apparent that they’ve been putting in their time since they were tots. Their time playing backup in their father’s band definitely shows well. Interestingly, the instruments that the Holbrook sisters picked up along the way were not mapped out by any deciding factor, other than their own volition. Although, perhaps their natural competitiveness drove them to select something different from their preceding sisters, as Eva relayed to me at the concert. And perhaps there may have been some gentle prodding from their singer/songwriter father without their knowledge. In any event, the sisters create an incredible sound with a perfect combination of instrumentation and vibe that catches and doesn’t let go.
SHEL is currently working on their sophomore full-length album and in the meantime, has just released a lyric video for their new song, “You Could Be My Baby,” which like all their videos was conceived of and directed by the ladies and spearheaded by Sarah. It was filmed in Nashville and happens to be one of my personal favorites. You can also download the song now on iTunes as part of the Native: Americana Spotlight compilation album. Check them out in any venue you can! They are fantastic and totally inspiring.