|SHANNON LYON "Safe Inside" (Inbetweens Records)
Although quite a few men took "Sly" as a nickname, Shannon Lyon has the legal right to do that, as it's really an abbreviation of his name! Shannon's musical credits go back to 1989, when he formed the band Strange Days with friends from Kitchener, Ontario. After one record and some nationwide touring, he went solo, trying to find a balance between the acoustic troubadour and the flat-out rocker in him. In 1995 "Buffalo White" was the first of his many solo-albums and he developed a somewhat melancholic songwriting style along the way. One of the new generation singer-songwriters, with a talent for crafting beautiful results from words and melody, in the vein of folk, country and blues, from "pure and easy-going" to "bleak and introspective", I like this quote. Comparisons with Jay Farrar, Richard Buckner and Ryan Adams are often made.
In early 2001 Shannon made his first trip to The Netherlands, an advice of Rob Lamothe. He stayed at an acquaintance's place, was provided with a bicycle plus a phone and found his way around. He and his music were welcomed with open arms, he signed a record deal and released "Dharma" (2002) and "Wandered" (2003) on the Dutch Inbetweens label.
Although Shannon returned to live in Canada, he recorded "Safe Inside" in The Netherlands again. At Leons Farm, a studio in a 16th century farmhouse. Production was in the experienced hands of Bart Jan Baartmans, he and his crew also play on the disc, they built quite a reputation with flawless work like this! Shannon plays acoustic guitar on all tracks, his electric and the harmonica on a couple others. "Safe Inside" opens with Shannon singing personal story "Marie" while BJ plays banjo and Spanish guitar. The three duets with Marjolein van der Klauw (the lovely voice of Dutch folkgroup Powderblue) are absolute highlights here. But cleverly built-up songs like "Beautiful Useless Words" and "Sad Story Now" are not bad at all either! Sultry sounding "Someday Mourning" with acoustic slide-guitar and epic, lavishly layered "Hallelujiah" are for sure fantastic songs to close off a CD. Cool artwork, with little bicycle on the front and dog on the back cover, but where are the printed lyrics?
If you have a chance to see Shannon live, don't hesitate! Even if he's not in shape; I've seen him sleepwalk through radio interviews -tired, cold & hungover- but the following performance was still good. And when he really gets into the music, it's like Richard Buckner says: "Shannon's timbre lets all the mood roll out between the words in growls, breaths and hills of emotion."
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, February 2007.