Lauren Calve, Shift Review
Lauren Calve, Shift Review
From Placeholder to Milestone: The Transformative Power of Lauren Calve’s Shift
Lauren Calve’s debut full-length album, Shift, has hit a warm place in my music collection, moving from an album that acts as a mere placeholder in the evolving sounds of my music to an album that hits me in a deeply immersive way that marks a journey of profound personal transformation.
Recorded at Nashville’s 3Sirens Music Group under the guiding hand of producer Dex Green, Shift is an intricate canvas of sonic textures. Green is more than just a soundboard operator; he’s an alchemist who converts raw emotional elements into auditory gold. The ensemble—including Fred Eltringham, Audley Freed, Marlon Patton, and Robert Kearns—imbues the record with technical mastery and genuine passion, building the perfect vehicle for Calve’s explorative journey of change.
Calve’s voice is the linchpin holding this intricate songscape together. With a voice that captures muted yearnings to the excitement of coming of age, her vocals lend an ineffable depth to her lyrical narratives. They are the wails of a siren calling from an internal ocean, a nuanced balance of fragility and strength, suggesting that the singer-songwriter grapples with a significant emotional and existential “shift.”
Calve opens her heart to share her stories; she invites us into her world. Songs like the title track, “Shift,” are artful amalgams of metaphoric and emotional layers. The concept of tectonic shifts and colliding asteroids is allegorical imagery to explain her psychological state, providing listeners with more than just a melody—they offer an experience.
One cannot ignore the arc of self-discovery and renewal shaping this album. Calve has undergone substantial life changes, including ending a six-year relationship and conquering the battle against alcoholism. These experiences permeate the album, making it a vulnerable, yet empowering musical chronicle. She said, “Ultimately, I made this album, but it remade me.”
Written during quarantine, the songs on Shift echo the silence and self-reflection that defined that period. Green’s production choices amplify this: ethereal tones, a judicious use of space, and a deft sprinkling of grit with outstanding guitar figures. Whether it’s the softer nuances of Calve’s vocal timbre or the atmospheric instrumental backdrop, the album is crafted to encapsulate the essence of capturing the intricacies of each song’s story.
Calve’s Shift is just one piece in her building on her legacy. From the momentum gained through collaborations with artists like Ray Wylie Hubbard and Rhett Miller to her thought-provoking singles, Calve is forging a path that bridges the emotional with the intellectual and the personal with the universal.
Shift is an intricately woven narrative that serves as a sonic exploration and a mirror reflecting Lauren Calve’s inner metamorphosis. It challenges genre conventions, flirting with pop country, Americana, and blues-rock elements without being tethered to any. It epitomizes what Calve has described as the album that “really sounds like me,” but it does more—it sounds like the human experience.
In conclusion, Shift has traversed the sonic map of my life, moving from a mere placeholder in my ever-evolving collection to a milestone marking a profound personal transformation. Much like the album itself, which is a pivotal point in Lauren Calve’s journey, it has become an essential chapter in my musical narrative. It’s a record that doesn’t just demand to be heard but insists on being felt, internalized, and revisited. ‘Shift’ has not only remade Lauren Calve but has also left an indelible imprint on me and, I suspect, on anyone who allows themselves to embark on this aural pilgrimage. Shift is a sonic chronicle of understanding the emotions of change, a musical soundtrack to the power of transformation.
September 1, 2023