Shelby Earl’s recommendation: “There are a number of artists who move me or whose music makes me feel deeply, but there is one at the top of the heap – one who regularly takes me somewhere special with his music: Icelandic artist, Jonsi. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jonsi live multiple times, both with his band, Sigur Ros and solo (I even got to see him play IN Iceland!) and every show has been extraordinary. I don’t know what Jonsi’s spiritual beliefs or practices are, but to me he seems undeniably tapped into the divine. He lays himself bare when he plays music and he takes his listeners to church every time. It’s as though he is dedicated to beauty above all else in his art. Through his ethereal voice and his songwriting – both seemingly full of immense heartache AND hope – and through instrumentation so beautiful it’s almost painful (strings, winds, keys, heavy rhythm, layered voices, etc), Jonsi’s music is utterly transcendent. And not only is he a brilliant artist, but I had the opportunity to hang out with him after a Seattle show in 2010 and found that he’s also an incredibly kind and genuine person. How rare and exciting to learn that an artist’s heart is as beautiful as the music they make. He is an inspiration on all levels.”
New to Jonsi? Shelby suggests you start here: “I would recommend every Sigur Ros album – especially Takk (2005) and Með suð í eyrum… (2008) – but above all I would recommend Jonsi’s debut solo album Go (2010).”
About our guest author, Shelby Earl: Shelby’s story is the sort of underdog tale that both inspires and restores faith for artist-wannabe office workers who think about trashing their steady gig and risking it all to pursue their dreams. Shelby spent her days at several arts related jobs in the Pacific Northwest, including stints at The Experience Music Project and as a music liaison at Amazon, but her true calling was song craft and performing. “To be totally honest, I was pretty unhappy those last couple years doing the 9-5,” Earl told Spinner, so she quit, threw herself into writing and caught the attention of two heavyweights on the indie music scene: John Roderick, lead singer of The Long Winters, who went on to produce Shelby’s collection of tunes, and Rachel Flotard, the can-do powerhouse behind Visqueen who also runs Local 638 Records. Her debut, Burn the Boats quickly gained support from Earl’s long time acquaintance, Ann Powers (NPR/LA Times) who passionately wrote “… I don’t want this record to get lost in the avalanche of releases that confronts every critic and music fan…Burn the Boats is an album beyond trends, a classic work of singer-songwriterly craft and beautifully framed confession.” Praise for Earl poured in from other outlets as NPR made At the Start the song of the day and Seattle Weekly dubbed the same track as “…an early frontrunner for best song put out by any artist in 2011.” To cap off this feel good story, Burn the Boats snagged the number one spot on her former employers’ (Amazon) “Outstanding 2011 Albums You Might Have Missed” list. Be sure to visit Shelby’s site for tour dates, to join her Facebook page and more.
MP3: Under Evergreen by Shelby Earl from Burn the Boats