Album Review: Shannon Roy’s “A Woman’s Soul”

Not many can lock into a groove as a songwriter as seemingly easy as Shannon Roy does. And, while the metaphor may sound trite, her songs sound anything but. With A Woman’s Soul, Roy has crafted a fantastic collection of tunes on an album that never seems to exist in one genre for too long. With vulnerable and unafraid lyrics that are delivered with unwavering vocals, A Woman’s Soul checks off a lot of boxes that make an album seamless and noteworthy.

Right away, an easy listening-jazz groove is established in the title track. Seemingly combining tons of jazz singer-songwriter influences of the early-aughts, Roy creates a strong introduction to her work. The instrumentation – including a tasty saxophone solo, among many other things – serves as a terrific bedrock for her vocals.

Swerving into a bit more of a twangy sound, “The Crazy Ones” begins with a featured whistling melody. Though the production is sterling – instrumentation and vocals build up in ways that pay off quite well – it is an unexpected left turn introduced early on in the album. Continuing with a country motif on track three, what stands out for me on “Wild and Free” is how Roy changed the register with which she sang. It’s a sign of great versatility when a singer makes themselves sound so different from one song to the next. It isn’t until “Wild Woman,” track nine, where this genre is revisited.

Changing back to her initial vibe, “Hold On” is a wonderful, piano-driven ballad. As the song develops, the backbeat really helps move the song forward. I really enjoy the push-and-pull nature of the rhythm, going between a near-halftime groove, to a standard one. Rhythmic developments of the record are further explored with the next song, “Ground Up.” Opening with a captivating mambo figure, the song soon transitions to a solo vocal and piano part, before the full instrumentation comes back in. The classical Latin guitar patterns really spice up the piece; they’re deftly executed. And Roy’s vocal power really outlines the intensity of this song’s lyrics.

Far more tender than other pieces on the record is track six, “A Devastated World”. With a time-signature of 12/8, and gospel-influenced background vocals, this song harkens back to classic tunes by artists the likes of Sam Cooke, et al. Lyrically vulnerable and extremely evocative in imagery, Roy brings forth a compelling tune, and nails the modulation: it doesn’t come off as contrived or forced.

Bursting forth with an attitude best described as “F*ck it, what else you got, world?” Roy proves she can sing the blues, and then some, with “Whiskey On The Rocks”. There’s not much left for interpretation, lyrically speaking, and it was interesting to hear such a genre shift on Roy’s album. Instrumentally, the electric guitar and saxophone stand out on this track.

During the latter third of the record, Roy sandwiches the aforementioned “Wild Woman” between two ballads: “Running Away” and “Soldiers.” What is really endearing about Roy’s songwriting is her vulnerability; there is very little work to be done when it comes to understanding the meaning of her lyrics or songs. Near the end of “Running Away,” she really flies into the upper part of her range, and it’s very well executed buildup. “Soldiers” features a piano and pedal steel intro that floats underneath an airy vocal. Between the slow-but-steady crescendo that occurs throughout the song, as well as the well-placed modulations, this is a powerful final track on Roy’s record.

The main genres that permeate throughout Roy’s debut record are country, jazz, and pop – with the occasional drops of rock and roll. And, whether it’s a ballad, a rocker, or a country tune, Roy demonstrates time and time again how capable of a songwriter she is. To check out the incredibly strong songwriting efforts of Shannon Roy, you can support her debut record by clicking the link here.

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