By now, it’s become almost commonplace to read the stories of new albums and expect just what’s coming next. Mentions of COVID, lockdowns, artists recording remotely, and numerous delays are expected. But what’s unexpected is to receive an album that, despite the odds, feels as refreshing and jubilant as Shannon & The Clams’ Year of The Spider.
In theory, it’s no surprise that Year of The Spider sounds nothing like what we’ve heard recently. After all, it’s likely one of the very few new albums to be released in 2021 that was recorded before a global pandemic took hold. Having wrapped up recording of the record in early 2020, the group finished sessions with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach just before Nashville was hit by a devastating series of tornadoes. If that wasn’t enough of a warning of things to come, it was just weeks later that the world shut down due to COVID-19.
In this situation, most artists found themselves working towards a goal. Perhaps they recorded a new song? A new album? Or perhaps they just did live performances from home? For Shannon & The Clams though, they had plenty of music, but they just couldn’t release it. After all, how do you release a record in the midst of a global pandemic? Certainly not with relish, that’s for sure.
Close to 18 months later though, Shannon & The Clams have finally unveiled their sixth album, and immediately, it’s clear that it’s one of their finest efforts to date. Armed with the classic ’60s-inspired rockabilly/doo-wop/soul revival that they’re known for, Year of The Spider is one created with a refreshing take on their sound, injected with a vigour and exuberance that’s not been seen for many a month.
Ironically, singer Shannon Shaw explained to Rolling Stone earlier this year that many of the tracks on the album were in fact written against the background of numerous stressful situations, including caring for her father, the threat of looming wildfires, and an ever-present Peeping Tom at her apartment complex. But how then does an album such as Year of The Spider, one that feels resilient, jubilant, and carefree, emerge in the midst of such a difficult time? It might be a mystery, but it’s the distillation of these experiences that translate into this uniquely vibrant album.
Though it remains to be seen what sort of record the events of 2020 and 2021 will result in, it’s clear that Year of The Spider is unlike nothing else you’ll hear this year. Equal parts optimistic, introspective, and nostalgic, it should be required listening for any music-lover.
Shannon & The Clams’ Year of The Spider is out now.