Red Sky July are a phenomenally overlooked band. Their members consist of husband and wife duo, guitarist Ally Mcerlane (also from the the hugely successful band, Texas) and vocalist Shelly Poole, as well as additional vocalist, Charity Hair and have been active since 2009. When they created their band project, Red Sky July aimed to create music that they would describe as ‘soul food’. If this second offering of theirs is anything to go by, then they have certainly achieved just that and more.
Shadowbird is a country record that flows beautifully. The album combines fast-tempo tracks with slower, meaningful country ballads. The songs with faster tempos have some brilliantly catchy melodies while the ballads are sweet and sincere efforts that tug at the heart strings. For a band to achieve this balance in their music is commendable.
Every song is lovingly accompanied by Ally Mcerlane’s soulful, atmospheric country guitar lines that chime brilliantly in the background while the vocalists do their work. And, by god, do these vocalists do their work. The harmonies are perfectly executed and add yet another layer of emotion to these already moving set of songs.
The lead single, Lay Me Down, is a perfect example of this, the kinetic melody combined with the unified harmony creating a moment of country-pop perfection with brilliant hooks. The song Losing You is another notable example of great hooks at work combining a theme of a dissolving relationship with rhythmic drums and an impressive lead guitar solo: “If I’d been where I should’ve been, I would have seen it in your eyes/I’ve been losing you for the longest time”. Slower songs such as Made For Each Other have as just as much appeal as the more energetic songs on the album, with reflective and passionate vocals above weeping country guitars. Yet, all of the songs retain that classic country vibe that would make this album a good choice to play on a sunset-filled evening. It’s got all the magic of Nashville with added soul.
Overall, Shadowbird is a modern country masterpiece, a truly relaxing, easygoing listen that will no doubt please country fans while potentially drawing in an entirely new audience. It’s got all the right elements of country – heartfelt songs, catchy melodies, great vocals and instrumentals – and jams it all together with a unique twist and identity that makes it a pleasure.