Friday 16 February 2024

Album Review: Spencer LaJoye - Shadow Puppets

Combining the subtleties of indie folk and the sweetness of introspective pop sees the full length debut from Spencer LaJoye blossom across its wholly owned template. The themes of SHADOW PUPPETS re-define the boundaries of personal discovery in an immensely engaging manner. Through a dozen tracks bursting with lyrical intent, a door is opened on a world of making sense of things leading to the calming waters of reassurance. Gender identity and religion entwine as a songwriter seeks solace in their art. LaJoye effectively deploys their own elaborately primed vocals across a musical landscape layered with succulent strings, subtle synth and essential acoustic guitar embedding a slice of simplicity into a complex world. 

Believing in Lajoye's long and ongoing journey, on a literal plane from south west Michigan to Boston but so much more from a queer artist finding solace in music, takes hold with a minimal dive into the songs and associated trappings. The writing sways between metaphorical and muses of a more straight up nature. Titles evolve from the opening track 'Shadow Puppets' implying an alternative view on life and the mid-placed 'The Joker', where confessions bubble over, to a trio of fully exposed pieces at the end in 'Surgery', 'Someday You'll Wake Up Okay' and 'Forgiveness'. While detaching the sound from the intent would lose some of the effect, there is an independent charm to 'Chaotic Neutral' that sparkles with a touch of country pop melodic glitter. 

SHADOW PUPPETS is the culmination of a rebirth. Under their new name, Spencer LaJoye has spent the last few years tossing small projects into the wider world, all building up to the inner seismic move of telling a profound and well-crafted story. Strong vibes and powerful words wrapped in an accessible package make the music stand out commandeering understanding, respect and solidarity. The strength of this artistic pursuit penetrates boundaries and you sense a cathartic experience in the making. If the cherry was far reaching acceptance, this can be unreservedly offered.