Earlier this month, Jamie Shelly dropped his sprawling new album Least Worst Choices, and we’ve been spinning it ever since.
Having been recorded over a fifteen-year period, it’s not your most traditional album… though somehow Shelly manages to rope in this smorgasbord of contrasting ideas, and presents something cohesive.
So we caught up with the artist himself to grab a track-by-track run through of this incredible new album.
Fresh off the release of his incredible new album Least Worst Choices, singer-songwriter Jamie Shelly runs us through each unique track.
This was among the first songs I recorded myself. I had an mp3 recorder with me on a night out, and asked my friends to think of and record sentences with seven syllables.
They mostly managed to comply, and give or take a few phrasing adjustments and some poetic license, I used a number of them for the verses of this song. So it’s a sort of folksong in its own way, in that it’s written in part by my folk.
I really like a bluesy guitar riff with a more electric break-beat drum sound. And I love it when bands break it down and have a middle section that’s quite different to the rest of the song, but then comes back almost seamlessly to the initial groove.
Does that make sense? Anyway, this was my first attempt at those things.
There’s this strange thing that happens when you have kids. When they cry and moan in the middle of the night and you have to traipse across the freezing house to their room only to find them fast asleep by the time you get there, you hate them to no end and can’t imagine why on earth you had them. But in the morning, they smile, and like magic, it fades away.
No Sign of Bohemia
This one is about arriving somewhere and expecting it to be full of artsy but intellectual bohemian types, only to be rather unpleasantly surprised. I like the mandolin sound and the slightly clattery drums.
Big busy cities are jam-packed with interesting people. This track is a bit of a character sketch of a particular type that stumbles the streets, scowling, scratching, spitting and swearing. You’ve got to love those guys. From a distance.
A bit of whimsical self-reflection in this one. My song writing process varies a lot. This is one of the few songs I’ve written that I had both the melody and most of the lyrics stuck in my head for about a year or so before I managed to actually write it.
Almost in keeping with the lyrical content, it’s as if it was rattling around in there for ages and I just couldn’t get it together to put pen to paper or fingers to strings.
Burn a Hole in the Sky
This was one I wrote in anticipation of a trip around Europe. I was really going for that slow build up and layering effect, but the production just doesn’t live up to the idea unfortunately.
It’s one I’ve often thought to record again, as my technical skills have gradually improved, but I doubt I ever will. I might do a stripped down acoustic version.
Love the Way
I love the sort of smoky sultry feel of this song. It’s one that was written, recorded and walked away from in about 2 hours. My voice doesn’t do it much justice, but I like the idea.
Not My Dog
I like the way this song sounds upbeat and poppy, but is sort of nihilistic and apathetic in its lyrical content.
This remains one of my favourite of my songs. I’ve always loved psychedelic and experimental music. I love how it can become about more that just the music, and take the listener somewhere else entirely.
But until I started recording my own music, I couldn’t really experiment as I wrote and recorded, as I was on someone else’s time.
This was the first song on which I could just sit and play things over and over and add layers and textures. I love the laughter and the sense of fun that’s created.
Punch Drunk Love
When my first daughter was born, I spent the first two weeks or so floating around in a trance of sorts, just marvelling at her. Punch drunk love.
Warms My Bones
I have this great memory of soon after my son was born, lying together with him in front of the fire, warming our bones.
With You in the Night
The verses of this song speak to getting my medical degree as a sign of socially recognised responsibility and respectability and settling down to make a stable life with someone, while the choruses speak of taking flight on an impulse.
It was the first of a series I wrote in a variety of interesting tunings. The guitar sound is too bright, but it’s a pretty song I think.
Just a simple little pop song. Not much else to say here. Although, now that I think of it, I have a reggae version of this that I recorded at Tuff Gong in Kingston- I should try find that.
When We Were Hedonists
For a while I longed for the days when we were young and free to do as we pleased. But once your kids hook you, they get into your heart, and you just can’t imagine life without them.
Straight Line No Edge
A bit of a snarky cynical look at the people of the mall, with a sobering twist. I love how different the style of the middle section is from the rest.
Sunshine and Smiles
A beautiful little tune I think, though about a somewhat sad and all too common occurrence. This was another in that series of songs written in unusual tunings. It was recorded with my friend Matthew Davison.
You and Me
We were living in an apartment by the sea when I wrote and recorded this- with long, warm, floaty walks and skates along a sunny promenade, awaiting the arrival of our first born.
Listen to Least Worst Choices now.