Chicago based Shannon Hayden plays the cello, that much is obvious. Her new album You See The World shows how she plays the cello.
Having started playing the cello at the age of seven (about seven years before I started playing it at secondary school), trained and competed nationally and internationally. She also played the electric guitar, and throughout the years incorporated the two. After years of this, we have You See The World before us, a testament to her talent, her dedication, and her auditory visions.
Combining the classical sound of the cello with whispy and delicate vocals, and electronic effects we are presented an album of craft and atmosphere. I might be way off the track here, but think early Tubeway Army and Gary Numan combining synthesisers and guitar effects – that’s the kind of combination I’m talking of here, but with a cello added predominantly into the mix.
Opening track Vanished is a slow-paced atmospheric number, with Hayden’s lush cello playing the centre point of swirling strings – orchestral and electronic. The lower notes of the cello are most striking here, with the chorus and echo effects being put to good use to create a shimmering soundscape.
Same takes a more experimental approach to things, with electronics this time being more forward in the mix. Higher notes than previously heard in Vanished are used sparingly, making this a darker, more brooding affair – the electronic beats gradually fade away leaving the listener with a ghostly denouement.
Baggage is also on the more avant garde scale of the spectrum, but in a poppy way. Excluding the fourth track Interlude, it’s the shortest track on the album, more traditionally instrumented, but quirky; minor plucked notes, a country and folky cello, and the minimal use of electronic beats.
As the album progresses you become immersed in the music, so powerful is its impact upon you. At it’s best, it engages your thought and emotions in exactly the same way an orchestral piece does.
Vocally, one could argue that it is not her strength; conversely, you could say that, having found her ‘musical’ voice with her cello, she is yet to find her ‘vocal’ and ‘lyrical’ voice. Personally speaking, having played Devil’s Advocate, I’m of the latter point of view. Having played the cello and dedicated one’s life to it (and this is coming from someone who when he was younger didn’t even dedicate 15 minutes a day to it when there wasn’t a school concert on) you’ll be more than proficient at it, to the expense of everything else.
Altogether, You See The World is a stunning album full of imagination. For this, we should be thankful, as it is for and because of imagination we create.
You See The World by Shannon Hayden was released on the 19th of February.