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Cary Shields Presents New Album 'Radio's Playin''

The title track to Cary Shields’ Radio’s Playin’ album includes the descriptive line, “Hey mama, the radio’s playin’ songs that get us singin’.” It’s Sheilds’ hope that his five-song release gets listeners singing along, too. And listeners will likely join in because these five tracks have memorable words and melodies.

It is a brief EP, as these five songs last just over twenty minutes. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of variety contained in its small package. It opens with “Run Rabbit,” which references the covid pandemic. The song’s arrangement incorporates bluegrass-y acoustic guitar and a wordless group vocal chorus, it’a peppy way to kick off the project.


VIDEO ("Run Rabbit"):

“In the Morning” is even more bluegrass-inspired, as it is supported by an out-front banjo part. The track includes an electric guitar solo, which contrasts with what comes before it by incorporating a legitimate rock & roll element. Shields sings the lyrics’ a.m. wishes happily and enthusiastically. It suggests that, although a couple may have been arguing or fighting the night before, they sincerely want to be close and loving by the time the sun comes up again.

Another electric guitar part, one that is much more extensive, introduces “Capers & Wine.” Its arrangement is folkish, and soft-rocky. Lyrically, it speaks of a couple’s favorite shared meal. Shields sings

it in in a decidedly conversational style during the verses, but then switches to more straightforward singing during the choruses. It’s a happy, easygoing love song, which goes down extremely smoothly.

The album’s aforementioned title track carries with it a Dire Straits-esque vibe. Once again electric guitar takes a prominent place in the arrangement. Shields sings in that casual vocal style of his. He

is not one to get gruff, loud, or overly emotional. Rather, he vocalizes sweetly and sincerely, without getting too hot and bothered. However, he’s about his most aggressive sounding on this one, which is still relatively subtle. He’s no punk or metal-head, that’s for sure. The combination of soft singing and light touch electric guitar makes Dire Straits the most obvious assumed stylistic influence. Now, if Shield sang like Bob Dylan, he might pass for a Dires Straits dead ringer.

The album’s last song is “Peaceful Hum,” leans closest of all (and also, ironically, it’s slightly Dylan-esque) to folk music. It kicks off with folk-ish harmonica, before it goes into a guitar strum pattern that

sounds a bit like Neil Young. Like a lot of what comes before it, this track gives off a happy aural aroma. It ends with a lot of loud, and a little bit of a psychedelic, electric guitar outro. It is almost as though Shields held off until the very end to get a little bit on the loud side.

One, of course, hopes radio will find a place for Cary Shields’ music. Then again, unless you’re the Lumineers or Mumford & Sons, folk and bluegrass elements are rarely welcome on the radio – unless there’s a place toward the left of the dial. Then again, radio has rarely been about putting the very best music over the airwaves. Radio programmers follow trends that promise sure things – or as close as possible to sure things. This release may not be a sure thing radio hit, but it’s certainly a sure thing quality EP.

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