EP Review : Is Shepherd - Songs For Sons

I’m not going to lie; I struggled with this review. The words weren’t flowing. The first mistake was starting with the obscure concept of Sturgeon's Law that states that 90% of any art form is “crap”. I thought this would be a good way to put Is Shepherd’s new EP 'Songs For Sons' in context with their lesser peers. It wasn’t.

In my ensuing procrastination, I went on to read about Bon Iver’s new album and then had the bright idea to do a bit of comparison between his music and this Newcastle trio as both these acts play heartfelt, whimsical folk. But that didn’t really pan out either.

Then I thought I’d write about the fact that these guys really do look folksy. One of them has a big beard. In the press photo, they’re all standing in the snowy woods and they all wear wooly scarves. I think I was just clutching at straws at this point.

But you see, it’s not me, it’s the music. Is Shepherd create beautiful, thoughtful songs made for the discerning, chin-stroking listener to immerse themselves in. But for all the beauty of opener 'Generations', for all the delicate introspectiveness of 'Garden', for all the off-beat, surf-rock charm of 'Pine Box', or for all the warm yearnings of 'Forever More' or the similar 'Disappointed', there is something missing. Even the distorted reprise of the opening track that ends this EP didn’t help.

This is a wonderful record, it really is. If you want some comparisons then think of Aereogramme or Lone Wolf, hell, even Bon Iver is a justifiable comparison, but this doesn’t change the fact that these songs, these wonderful songs in all their polished glory just didn’t deliver.

Why, I can’t say. This isn’t a logical statement I realise, but since when has music ever been about logic? Perhaps Songs for Sons is too perfect. It has everything immaculately in place, everything that is except for a soul; and all the studio trickery in the world can’t make up for that. Maybe you can find that warm fuzzy feeling on this record if you dig hard enough, but to this disenchanted reviewer it’s too much beauty and too little substance; and believe it or not that breaks my folk-loving heart to admit.

'Songs for Sons' is out now for immediate download on Is Shephard’s bandcamp.

01 Generations by Is Shepherd