Wellington acoustic band In The Shallows have just released their self-titled debut album. The deep end of In The Shallows consists of vocalist Danni Parsons and widely experienced guitarist Lance Shepherd. Beautiful harmonies and earworms aplenty, their live band features Fur Patrol‘s Andrew Bain, Nick Brown of Eb & Sparrow and Vorn. Continuing the trend of working with top flight professionals their album was produced by US/Canada-based Steve Rokosh, who has in the past worked with the likes of Emmylou Harris. To put them into a musical context for newcomers, NZM asked them to create a playlist for you around a few of their new songs.
Danni: The early Fly My Pretties albums have been a big influence on me musically and a catalyst to the diversity that features on our album. Singing In My Soul is one of the first Fly My Pretties’ songs I heard after arriving in NZ and ultimately it was the harmonies with Tessa Rain that drew me in on this track.
Danni: Having played the violin for 10 years when I was little, the strings in Anna Coddington’s The Garden is also something that makes me swoon.
Danni: ‘Don’t be afraid’ is about being authentic, not being afraid to be yourself and that you are worthy of love, imperfections and all. Don’t Be Afraid is one my favourite tracks that feature the strings on our album, and I hope to feature the violin in future albums.
Lance: This track was kept sparse with just our two guitars and the cello to keep its almost fragile beauty intact. Steve (producer) and Bonnie (cello) worked together to really create the build at the end. I love the message of this track and feel the instrumentation helps to convey the feelings surrounding being afraid and having to take a leap of faith.
Danni: I played this first debut album of Ladyhawke’s to death when I first heard it, so this album is super nostalgic for me. When looking at playlisting one of her tracks I discovered the acoustic versions of My Delirium, Paris is Burning and Dusk Till Dawn and I’m smitten by the arrangement and the strings. This track, in particular, reminds me a lot of how the Pizz & Bowing/stabbing of the cello has been layered on our track Hold On.
Lance: I like how this track holds slightly darker suspense through the verses and opens out into a major key broad chorus. I find this reminiscent of some of our album tracks and themes – where we move through darkness into the light.
Danni: It was hard to choose just one track from Louis Baker’s first EP, released in 2014. His voice is captivating, his lyrics are simply beautiful and the strings (here I go again!) make my heart sing. I love that this particular track when it gets going has a really uplifting effect, something we ultimately want to give our listeners, something beautiful and uplifting. I used to playlist a few of his songs to use when teaching my community yoga classes.
Danni: Amiria has the most beautiful voice, she really is one of NZ’s most precious songbirds and just a really beautiful human! More people need to listen to her music, it is delightful in every way.
Lance: The first flat I moved into in Wellington was with Fur Patrol’s drummer Simon Braxton. From there I met Andrew Bain and fast became a friend and big fan of his bass playing. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to hear the demo recording of Lydia just after it was written, and it has remained a song very close to my heart since. Andrew and I have worked on a couple of projects together over the years and it’s an honour to have him play on our album.
Danni: I wasn’t around in NZ when Fur Patrol were at the height of doing their thing, but as serendipity would have it, I was introduced to Andy when I was working on a job as a casting manager. The COO said, ‘You guys should meet, you both play music.’ Almost straight away I asked if he would be interested in playing bass on our album and as we talked more we realised that he had already done that for Lance with one of his previous bands. We fast became friends, and I have to say when I hear him playing bass on our songs it just makes me feel happy!
Lance: I just love the lyrics and the playful but honest sentiment of Fiji Baby. Rodney Fisher has such a great sense of melody and Goodshirt have been an influence on how I approach writing hooks. I actually got this album not long after moving to London so it very much reminds me of that time and place. Funnily enough, I ended up meeting Rodney shortly after he moved to London a few years later and now he and his second wife Hayley [Fisher, Dead Little Penny] are back here. Coincidently they ended up becoming our publicists when Danni found Hayley through a women’s music industry network, not knowing prior that I had that connection to Rodney.
Danni: I love how the world works in such mysterious ways, some things are just meant to be!
Danni: There are a lot of NZ reggae bands that have influenced how I Can’t Reach You came to be what it is. I never necessarily thought I would set out to create a song of this genre, even though I used to listen to this kind of music a lot when I first came to NZ. However, the personal nature of the lyrics and what the song was about led me to only ever hearing it being done in this way. It was really just us being playful and adventurous musically, and sort of saying to each other, why not, let’s just give it a go!
Luckily, we had a few friends we could call on to make this track what it is now – it was very much a collaborative effort and wouldn’t be what it is without them. It began with Matiu Te Huki laying down the guitar track and giving us some bass ideas that Andy Bain integrated and added his own layers to. Longtime friend Davie Dubman added his flava with the keys, Chris Winter, who I’d performed alongside in another band (8 years ago) brought in the trumpet line, that Chris Peirce (Tu Tilley) added sax too. It was quite a journey and a lot of fun!
In The Shallows’ self-titled album is out now.