Shearwater: Fellow Travelers


There are plenty of bands, both mainstream and underground, who make overly-emotional music. Heck, there’s even a musical genre, “emo,” that specializes in heavily impassioned music. For me, a little of that goes a long way. There’s no need to name names, but I generally prefer bands that lighten up occasionally. One band that might be considered an exception to my rule is Shearwater. Originally a collaboration between co-founders Jonathan Meiburg & Will Sheff (who later devoted all of his efforts to Okkervil River, a band both men played in), Shearwater was specifically designed for their quieter, more tender songs. And at times, their songs can make grown men weep. But Meiburg, who has kept the Shearwater name, has a knack, through subtle wit & a poetic bent, for keeping things from toppling into an emotional abyss of despair. But he also has a knack for turning other people’s songs into his own, as Shearwater’s latest album proves.

Fellow Travelers was designed as a collection of covers from bands Shearwater has toured with over the years. While touring partners might likely seem to be musical similar (else why would they tour together, right?), there can be a wide range of styles amongst these partners, especially with as well traveled a band as Shearwater. Thus, there might not be anything obviously similar about songs by Coldplay, Clinic, Sharon Van Etten and Xiu Xiu (all represented on this record), but somehow Meiburg & friends tie them together into a satisfying, consistent knot of an album. In fact, it works so well that Meiburg claims it’s his favorite Shearwater record to date, which is truly high praise. Listening all the way through, it is easy to forget that these were originally other people’s songs, with maybe only the Folk Implosion’s “Natural One” or Coldplay’s “Hurts Like Heaven” being familiar enough to pick out as covers. Ultimately they all end up sounding like Shearwater tracks, complete with their magical balance of emotional content. And even if you find yourself tearing up a bit, just remember – it’s only Shearwater.


Track List:

1. Our Only Sun
2. I Luv The Valley Oh!!
3. Hurts Like Heaven
4. Natural One
5. Ambiguity
6. Cheerleader
7. Tomorrow
8. A Wake For The Minotaur
9. Mary Is Mary
10. Fucked Up Life