Article by: Matthew Booth
Imagine the shifting monochromatic skyline of a careworn city, the smoking end of a burnt-out day smouldering beneath the twilight. Imagine yourself languishing atop your barstool throne, living for nothing but the lukewarm beer behind you, and the promise of an exhausting tomorrow ahead. You exist not for the gilded optimism of mainstream society nor for the foolhardy dreams that ended up in another place, but to continue to experience the stark, honest life you’ve grown so accustomed to, a life oft lived to its fullest end, but the nature of which is rarely articulated. Enter the rare articulators, Citizen Shade.
Fronted by Will Howard, a blue-eyed soul man from North Carolina, Citizen Shade boldly embark on the emotional blind date that many artists daren’t let leave their hearts. Their recent release, One For the Evening, is a compendium of every important element to the last twenty years of soul music, plus a left-handed twist afforded by their unique instrumentation. The other two members, David Lezcano (piano), and Justin Mackey (cello), paint an intensely colourful backdrop to Will’s commanding vocals – each song on the album features quite some sophisticated arranging, as well as an assurance that each of the participating musicians knows exactly what they’re doing.
I had a chance to sit down with Will and David, and even hearing them just discuss the creative process behind their music spoke to its thoroughly-considered complexity. They stressed that delivering their message to their audience was a priority of theirs; the material on One For the Evening is intimate, honest, and at times even difficult to be open about (Forfeit Tomorrow, for example, deals with suicide), but one thing it never does is hide from its truth.
Long story short: One For the Evening is the result of a handful of talented musicians who’ve decided they want to share their experiences of life with unflinching honesty, and with a dedication to authenticity. It’s soulful, organic, but leaves a catchy, poppy aftertaste in the most desirable of ways. Will Howard is often compared to the likes of John Legend; let him stand on his own. His delivery has a unique power about it, and his music is uncommonly honest. Give Citizen Shade’s new album a listen – they will certainly thank you for your time.
See Matthew’s interview with Citizen Shade HERE.