by Kenny Ramos (@KennyRamosLife)
Ever since the Northtown EP introduced me to the disco pop shaman that is Shamir, I’ve been rooting for him ever since. Blessed with a one-of-a-kind countertenor voice and lyricism that gushes with sensuality glittered over house and dance music, it seemed fair to assume that Shamir would be vindicated to bask in a future destined for continued musical success. While I still hold on to my prophecy, perhaps I’ve negated to include the mortality responsible for all this magic. Perhaps because I find Shamir so fascinating and inspiring for so many that I often forget that the 22 year old from Las Vegas isn’t invincible to the common strains affecting his generation.
Since his debut album, Ratchet, splitting from XL Recordings, and releasing Hope on Soundcloud, Shamir returns more determined to tap back into the therapeutic benefits of songwriting, which appear on his latest album, Revelations. It was released by Father/Daughter Records and sounds more like a lo-fi indie album than what we’re accustomed to, but don’t think for a second Shamir’s songwriting is any less potent when no longer accompanied by big-time producers.
Personally, I’d say Revelations shows us that Shamir is steadily healing and mentally in a better place by falling back in love with the very craft that had won us over years ago, but this time it’s about winning himself over. The lyrics themselves come off as pure and unfiltered, as if they were meant for private eyes only. That’s why I think Revelations may not rank as my favorite work Shamir will put out, but it’s just one that I’m glad he felt empowered to share anyway.
“You Have a Song” stood out to me; a slow sentimental song dedicated to an unnamed fake friend that’s musically Mitski-esque and lyrically reminded me of “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. Although it’s not about a lover, its inexplicitness shows restraint despite whatever this person may have done. It’s sort of like when you confront someone by informing them that you won’t stoop to their level.
The tail end of the album holds up more for me than the first half, partly because it hosts lyrics that are more broad and applicable, but nonetheless well-written. “Cloudy” reminds us that our own lives are more important than our desire to achieve grand ambitions. It’s something I’m sure we all tell ourselves, but desperately need to follow through on. “Float” is a beautifully sung lullaby born out of psychosis, but fortunately has Shamir seeking peace within himself as he floats along reflecting on his previous volatility that make him “like a timer ready to blow.” “Astral Plane” seems to reiterate Shamir’s desire to be in a better place, and while it mentions going through hell to perhaps find heaven I don’t think it refers to an afterlife, but rather to get rid of the torment that often resides in our own minds and transform it into a more neutral space. Lastly, “Straight Boy” is a reminder that dudes, like myself, need to do better in 2018 and beyond.
If Revelations wasn’t quite what you were expecting, I’m sure you’re not alone, but it’s an album I was able to appreciate, especially considering what Shamir has gone through to make it. I’m looking forward to what will come next and confident that the universe will align the stars in Shamir’s favor.