Shane Parish Shares Video For “Black Eyed Susan” – Announces ‘Liverpool’ LP Out March 4

In a career defined by breakthroughs, Liverpool finds masterful guitarist Shane Parish at a natural culmination point. Following years of intensive self-directed musical study and teaching, as well as a move to Athens, GA, Parish set out to continue his work arranging traditional folk music for solo guitar with bursts of improvisation ala his 2016 album “Undertaker, Please Drive Slow” (Tzadik 4016), or 2019’s “Way Haul Away: A Collection of Fireside Songs” (Dear Life 005); this time exploring sea shanties as source material. By repurposing nautical worksong melodies and “lover-lost-at-sea” ballads, Parish provides a unique window into their universal evocativeness and ever-fluid evolution. Parish hypothesizes that “These old melodies are timeless due to their physiological power to vibrate the human nervous system in just the right way, they are the code to resonance within the body, and thus a fantastic and magical part of our evolution.”

Parish’s source material for making guitar arrangements of folkloric music is always the human voice, rather than the accompanying guitar or banjo playing one might hear on archival recordings. He transcribes the vocal melody first, then builds his own unique arrangements, allowing the contour of the tune to dictate the harmony, embellishments, and tunings that best resonate and give expression to the song. His process of giving primacy to the human voice naturally jives with the sea shanty repertoire because it is traditionally a choral music, sung a cappella. His passion for deeply feeling music has always drawn him to the minor contours and hypnotic longing of Irish music, and the spirituality, phrasing and harmonic tension within old blues music. The primary influences of Sea Shanty music are Irish and African-American, thus a truly world fusion music that predates recording and broadcasting.

After months of developing elaborate acoustic guitar versions of the songs for what he at first intended to be a solo acoustic guitar album, a burst of inspiration hit and he rearranged the music for electric guitar, where he has long been at home with his two decades of work as composer and bandleader for morphing avant-prog outfit Ahleuchatistas. What Parish ended up with are arrangements in his intuitive, intense, and intimate style, more directly aligned with his flagship electric band. While acoustic guitar produces resonance through tactile manipulation, the electric guitar harnesses the flow of electricity, allowing Parish to cut a more urgent and colorful slice through our historical moment with these haunting melodies which were first formed under the most ruthless of working conditions, defiantly affirming the creative human spirit’s ability to burst forth from any circumstances.

“‘Blackeyed Susan’ is a lover-lost-at-sea ballad of sorts. Susan comes to visit her true love, a sea captain named William, while his ship is docked at port. In their exchange, he professes her undying faith to her and assures her of his fidelity, and that he will not be tempted away from her by other lovers while docked at other ports around the world,” says Parrish.

“Many people have sung this song, but I first heard it performed by Anna & Elizabeth, when I played supporting sets opening for them on two separate occasions. I was moved to tears both times. Elizabeth LaPrelle’s singing and Anna Roberts-Gevalt’s guitar playing combine to give this song a deeply haunting and sparse arrangement. The song appears on their Smithsonian Folkways album “The Invisible Comes to Us”, and Jim White plays drums on it,” he adds.

“The melody is so strong that it does not require much dressing to evoke a world of desolate and sorrowful beauty. In my arrangement I break it into phrases for the first section and interject watery responses to each melodic passage, before the song culminates in a driving groove where the melody repeats ad infinitum with only the subtlest of variations in articulation. The light percussion of Michael Libramento accentuates the momentum. The video was made by Athens-based artist Lauren Whitley.”