SHANNON - EIGHTEEN
1. Why Why
2. I Know
3. Gossip Girl
5. Hate You
6. Breath (Shannon, Vasco, Giriboy)
7. Daybreak Rain
Shannon returns to the music scene with 'EIGHTEEN.' Having released multiple singles and collaborations, this is the British-born singer's first mini-album. The new mini-album contains a couple pre-release tracks and 5 brand new ones.
"Why Why" is the first single off 'EIGHTEEN.' I was worried at first as it starts with a rather discordant horn/string combo -- both badly performed. It picks up quickly after that to a mid-to-fast tempo pop tune, thankfully unmarred by, well, whatever that was in the beginning. I've said it before, but I like Shannon's vocals. Some of them are in a lower register, but she's able to belt out the high part of a chorus and carry a tune during the nonsensical "ooohs." Overall it's a sweet song and a great way to start the album.
"I Know" takes the edge off with a piano driven ballad that really helps highlight Shannon's voice. The melody is somewhat spare of instrumentation, which helps the track pop more. There's a rather forceful, insistent beat, too. I like it; it's a nice, calming break between two of the more kinetic tracks on this disc.
"Gossip Girl." Starting with synth claps, it adopts a funky beat early on. This track has some retro nods, and Shannon morphs her voice to a lower pitch, reminding me mostly of a 15& song. There are some masterful vocal flourishes and breaks that make it all Shannon's, however.
The curiously-named "20inch" actually has an interesting premise, that there's always 20 inches of empty space between Shannon and her lover that prevent them from being together the way they want. It's a fine, lower-tempo pop piece, but curiously, there is a male voice on the track, too. He's not accounted for in the press or in the track listing.
"Hate You" is a slower, meditative song, sweetly and earnestly sung. Despite the title, she doesn't hate him. She misses him and loves him instead, though in some cases, I got the sense she wants to hate him. Shannon's voice is reined in on this track, soaring less, ending up more gently pleading. It works well with the theme of conflicting emotions on the track.
"Breath" (Shannon, Vasco, Giriboy) is a previously released single. A collaboration with two rappers, the bespectacled Giriboy and the veteran underground rapper Vasco, the track itself is primarily a sweet-voiced Shannon singing with occasional rap interludes from Giriboy and Vasco, though Giriboy seems to have the lion's share of the rapping. This is a pretty track, and the hip-hop parts, thankfully, aren't aggressive enough to overshadow the main melody.
"Daybreak Rain" was her debut single, and I have already reviewed it.
This is an exquisite album. It has a soothing, mature feel to it rather than a more danceable vibe. I personally think Shannon deserves more attention than she gets, especially because of her vocal range. She's able to reach the highs of similar songstresses, but also pitch her voice lower without autotune, which demonstrates an impressive range and skill. She not only handles ballads, which we already knew, but also dance tunes with equal facility. I'm hoping she goes far because in my mind she already has.
Recommended tracks: "Gossip Girl," "Why Why," "I Know"
This is a cute, if somewhat unoriginal, take on the schoolgirl crush concept. Going to mop up at the school gym, she sees a basketball player, which makes her heart thump. Then she does various cute things as the school day progresses, stealing glances at him then quickly looking away, and even taking his empty ketchup packet and pasting it on a paper heart in her diary. She's obsessed with him--at least until another cute guy walks by as she's about to hand him a card, and the MV lets us know that it's off to the races again!
Of course there are some amusing nods to fantasy, like when she's singing into a tennis racket and his racket is magically gone and he ends up frantically dodging serves. Or singing in the tub because people always take baths with their clothes on.
The only problem I had is that Shannon is still quite young. Her first video had her dressed to the nines, and now there's quite a bit more showing. Admittedly it's only leg and it's a far cry from a sexy concept, it's just not what I'm used to.
At the end there's a blooper reel, proving once again that even the most carefully laid out scenes require more than one take.
Despite my misgivings at some of the costumes, this is a wonderful video. It may lack the opulence of "Don't Look At Me Like That" or "Flower," but it stands up next to anything A Pink has done (for example). The schoolyard as setting is a bit old, but I can understand why it might resonate, given the 15 hour school day. It's funny, it's cute, there's no esoteric symbolism in the video, it just is what it is. I like it.