How to Be Shy
- Artist: Shy Nobleman
- Format: CD
- Release Date:6/6/2002
The name is real, the title is a fake out, 'cause Shy ain't shy. In fact, he's audacious, attacking every track on this album with gusto. The young guy treats every track like an adventure, supporting his well-written tunes with inventive arrangements that reveal that his staggering talent is matched by a passionate absorption of a couple encyclopaedias worth of pop and rock knowledge. Nobelman is not cowed by the giants who he has obviously studied - instead, he puffs his chest out and in a simultaneous display of coltish energy and bravado, tries to make music as great as the greats - and he does a pretty damn good job of it. This album is a testament to the value of aiming high. Nobleman not only has the smarts, but his charisma shines through on his performances. While sounding like neither, Nobleman's warbling is of the Bryan Ferry/Russell Mael school - he sings his lyrics with passionate amusement, and though sometimes he's in a different key than the song, he never fails to get back on the beam. This exuberance is matched by the musical performances - imagine some of the spunkiest of the recent vintage of Swedish power pop bands convening with the Who and The Move, with some nifty psychedelic overtones and you're most of the way there. The joy that emanates from Nobleman's music is also a subject of his music. Take the music hall piano piece 'Fireworks Tonight,' which is Shy's brief account of 'his musical heroes,' as he gives props to his grandpa for giving him a turntable and name checks Scott Walker, Eric Carmen, Paul McCartney, and the song winds up with Nobleman going to a friend's birthday party where The Byrds and Big Star are on the stereo, so more 'friends' were at the party: Michael Clarke, Roger McGuinn and Alex Chilton (hope someone kept Alex away from the bar...). The brass section on the track gives a 'Penny Lane' air to the proceedings. If you want full bore energy, look no further that 'Power Pop Symphony'. The song combines a 'Do Ya' riff with a counterpoint 'Fire Brigade'-ish acoustic guitar fill that is (PUN WARNING) a Move-ing experience. This is power pop made for the wide screen, with big guitars and big vocals. Nobleman throws in a dramatic bridge and even bits of psych-guitar freak out courtesy of RockFour lead guitar genius Baruch Ben Itzhak. Smoking. Further rave ups include 'Sad Song Happy Song,' which sounds like a Paul McCartney rocker on steroids, it's so beefy. The lyrics are (again) so witty - within eight lines, he thinks back to when his girl was getting down with his best friend after they broke up, but they end up getting back together and 'I am sitting on a tree/you are sitting next to me/holding hands together/and waiting for the kids'. Love endures! And 'A Nightmare in an Army Group' is a simply dazzler - kind of a psych-glam number, with guitars, guitars and more guitars - guitars twangy, guitars riffing fat riffs, guitars jangling, guitars slamming down a cool descending carnival melody (accompanied by a tinny organ) - this is a magical frenzy that is hooky and surreal and fun beyond belief. This album is just an embarassment of riches - great arrangements, dense production, intelligent lyrics, and at the center, a dude who is smart enough to know all the Pop Rules, but young enough not to give a shit, and break them when necessary. (Mike Bennett- Fufkin.com)
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