Because Songs Matter

Shane Sweeney – Complex Ecosystems – 2015

Complex Ecosystems

Shane Sweeney‘s new EP, Complex Ecosystems came out late last week and I have been listening to it almost non-stop since I got my hands on it. You may be thinking “it’s only five songs, how many times can you listen to it?” My response would have to be “I don’t know, I haven’t managed to listen to it enough yet.” There’s something about Shane’s writing on this one that keeps pulling me back in and I honestly can’t pinpoint what it is that he’s managed to pull off that has me so entranced.

While not the same stripped down, lo-fi sound as The Finding Time this is still an acoustic album. While I really enjoyed Shane’s first solo album, the production quality and addition of some backing instrumentation really take the musical side of the record to the next level. The sparse sound plays very well with the themes of the songs and I have to say that even as EP it is one of the most acoustically complete records I’ve heard in a long time.

There’s a sort of acceptance going on here, not an acceptance based on resignation but rather an acceptance of self. I think the depth of Shane’s self-awareness is what is fueling the writing here and that awareness allows a stand to be made. It’s most apparent in “95 Theses” and laid out bare in the lyrics to “Complex Ecosystems”:

We’re all looking for the truth
and the world does have a use
and we’re all broken and abused
but we have nothing to prove
unless it’s to ourselves

Those words seem to be the point on which everything else hangs. This idea is something that we should all strive for, at least in my opinion. What point is there in trying to make everyone else happy if we lose ourselves in doing so?

Shane and I have had some amazing conversations over the years; he has a way of making you feel like the only person in the room where you’re talking and somehow that reflects in art. There are points on every album where it feels like he’s singing directly to you. At Holiday Hangout last year Shane told me “We’re all in this together” and I knew that he meant it. Our political differences don’t really matter, the difference in our belief systems doesn’t really matter, and so little else does because we’re all trying to just get through whatever this is. That idea makes an appearance here as well:

Nobody asked to be born
to wander the dark wondering what you’re here for
Nobody asked to be born
Nobody asked to be born

Shane has said so much in these five songs that I feel ill-equipped to even write about them. That I can call him “friend” is a humbling thing but even if I had never met him his art would still challenge me and I hope it does you as well.

I feel like both Shane’s and Micah’s EPs this year are, at the same time, a continuation of the ideas formulated on Death of the Self Preservation Society and a prelude to the next set of ideas. I haven’t sat and talked with them about this but there really seems to be something more here than just releasing great records. I sincerely hope that I’m right, that I’m not reading too much in to things, and this common thread does exist. Of course I could be batshit crazy and what I’m seeing is all just an illusion. Regardless of whether I’m right about this common thread or not this is an EP that you damn well should own. Meanwhile I’m going to leave this on repeat on the headphones, at least once more, today. I shouldn’t have to say this but just in case you couldn’t figure it out, this is Essential Listening.

You can grab it digitally on Shane’s Bandcamp, order a CD from Last Chance Records and if you don’t already stalk Shane on FB then you should start now.

95 Theses     

Nobody Asked To Be Born     

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