The Awaken EP is a six-track exploration of organic melodies and the beauty of everyday life.
Shao Jean & Leyeux have crafted a body of work that is an expression of a remote and rural environment, a place that any sane actor would love to spend a Sunday afternoon. Like any artistic medium, part of the power that music has stems from its ability to distill a time, a place, or even a feeling of energy into a consumable format. The best works of music are transportive in nature, allowing audiences to exist, if only for a moment, in a kind of otherworldly space. The Awaken EP is successful in that it is able to teleport its listeners into a pastoral setting, where there is no rush, and where the sun is shining. It is no surprise that the majority of this EP was recorded in Vermont. The natural, laid back vibes of the green mountain state can be sonically traced throughout this record.
The project opens with what is arguably the strongest track on the EP, “Earthy.” On this song, Leyeux’s crooning vocals sit perfectly over the crisp guitar-driven instrumentation. Drifting between the ethereal and the carefree, Leyeux delivers a performance that is delightfully understated. The track is an earworm that lodges itself inside your mind, forcing you to hit the replay button.
The title track “Awaken” is also worth noting. “Awaken” features a syncopated groove that at first seems unwieldy and unhinged, but in turn creates an interesting juxtaposition between the spacey refrain and percussive verses. It is not difficult to listen to, while still maintaining defamiliarizing itself from common folk tropes.
Overall, this project is a great start for Shao Jean & Leyeux. I’m incredibly excited to see what this folk-soul duo has in store for us next. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will remind me of running barefoot on freshly cut grass.
Post scriptum: All of the album art for this project was painting by Shao’s mom (How wholesome!). You can see more of her work here