Lauren Calve | Shift Review
Shift by Lauren Calve: Transmuting Pain into Musical Gold
by Bea Willis
Nestled in the iconic surroundings of Nashville, Shift is an album baptized in the waters of transformative change. Serving as a mature follow-up to her 2020 Wildfire EP, Shift crystallizes Calve’s personal and artistic evolution. Inspired by her ending of a significant six-year relationship and opening her arms to change, the album echoes these seismic shifts with its lyrical density and instrumental poise.
Shift encapsulates an intricate balance of ethereal tones with traditional rock/pop instrumentation, underpinned by a minimalist yet emotionally resonant production, reminiscent of a Vermeer painting — precise, intimate, and imbued with life. Calve’s vocals on the album range from hauntingly subtle, like a ghost that refuses to leave, to catchy Americana earworms that linger long after the song is over.
Wielding the pen with the same mastery as her musical instruments, Calve crafts dramatic imagery and deploys metaphors with finesse. The album traverses the emotional gamut of self-discovery and change. Its narrative arc—a hero’s journey of sorts—moves from yearning for a life less ordinary to seizing personal and artistic growth.
“Shift,” the namesake track, is a poetic dance between Americana and rock. Its lyrics (“Finally screamed, I can’t hold it all A tidal wave crests 200 feet tall I feel a shift”) resonate with the emotional turbulence and the catharsis that comes from change. Technically, the production qualities are pristine. Marlon Patton’s drumming adds a textual richness that complements Calve’s ethereal vocal quality, further enhanced by Dex Green’s production and guitar performance.
“Subtle Alchemy” offers a fresh brew of Americana and rock, with lyrics that are a metaphorical goldmine. The song deals with the transformative power of change, articulated through lyrics like, “In hand, a key he holds, Catches light and turns to gold.” The production elevates her voice, allowing us to hear her unique timbre, providing an emotional clarity that strikes a chord.
“Late Bloomer” is a coming-of-age tale with a Sheryl Crow-like musicality. Lyrics about late blooming and self-discovery are narrated with heartwarming sincerity. The track’s production is sonically layered but emotionally uncluttered, allowing the narrative to flourish.
Shift is an album of stories—more specifically, a poignant testimonial to the power of transformation. Calve seems to be speaking not just for herself, but for every restless soul aching for metamorphosis. Her gift of storytelling, superb musicianship, and authentic vocal delivery form the resounding takeaways from this soul-stirring project. As a fusion of Americana and rock, Shift solidifies Calve’s personal evolution and holds the potential to impact both genres, serving as a masterful example of how to bring nuanced emotional complexity into mainstream soundscapes. In essence, Shift is a transformative journey, much like an alchemical process that turns life’s base elements into musical gold.
Release Date: September 1, 2023
About the author
With an unwavering passion for music that began at the tender age of five, I embarked on a journey of self-expression through the piano, later expanding my repertoire to the guitar and the art of singing. As a seasoned performer in cozy coffee shops and harmonious choir ensembles, I've immersed myself in the diverse tapestry of musical genres, seeking to uncover the intricate qualities that strike a chord within our souls.
Beyond my personal experiences, my journalistic pursuits have led me to explore the stories and inspirations behind the melodies we hold dear. As a music journalist, I aim to delve into the heart of each composition, shedding light on the creative minds that have shaped the soundscape of our lives.
In my downtime, you can find me serenading my loyal canine companion with heartfelt tunes on the guitar or indulging in retail therapy to enhance my ever-growing wardrobe. Songwriting holds a special place in my heart, and I yearn for the day when I can share my creative talents with the world. Until then, my passion for uncovering the emotional power within music continues to drive my insightful reviews and analyses, as I journey through the rich landscape of melodies that move us.