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Shadows Like Strangers - 'CALI' Album Review


1. Counterpart 2. Love Again 3. The Space Between Us 4. A Way Home 5. Coast To Coast 6. Night Vision 7. It Doesn’t Matter At All 8. Sad Songs 9. The Art Of Falling Down 10. Dead Happy

Shadows Like Strangers release their debut album “CALI” on 1st February. Despite having only formed in 2018, the band have already played a sold out show in Nottingham’s Rock City supporting Lacey.

Although the band have only been together since last year (and in their current four piece guise since November), singer/guitarist Jezza Bruce has spent the last three years writing and developing their sound culminating in the release of single “The Space Between Us” and the “Night Vision” EP in early 2018. “CALI” adds 6 new songs to those already featured on previous releases, including the official lead single for the album “A Way Home”, which was released back in October.

“CALI”, as an album, deals with all the usual Rock subjects – love, hate, dreams – but does so with style and aplomb. With drummer Paul, bassist Dan and guitarist Scott alongside Jezza, they sound like they’ve been together for years rather than months. “Love Again” and “Sad Songs” are singles in waiting, while the glorious “Art Of Falling Down” has just been released as a single…it’s well worth checking out as an insight to the band and the album. “It Doesn’t Matter At All” has already seen the light of day on the “Night Vision” EP but is certainly strong enough to have made it as a single on it’s own. It has one of those choruses that just sounds anthemic and a set ending barnstormer. There is a change in pace with the lead single “A Way Home”, which is led by piano and acoustic guitar. It’s a deeply personal song, dealing with the fears and isolation that depression brings but also the strength and reassurance provided by a loved one, with the promise that ‘We’ll find a way…’ It’s a gorgeous song that might not seem to be the ideal lead song for a Rock album, but it offers a depth of vision into Jezza as a person and creates a connection that makes you want to listen to more of his work.

I have to admit to a wee bit of scepticism (I know, who’d have thought that of me!) when I read somewhere that Jezza often visualises film scenes in order to structure the lyrics, with these scenes often being set in in California...I did worry that there may be some half arsed Beach Boy-isms coming my way, but I need not have feared. Listening through, you can kind of see the imagery and the story board in his head but this is far from a lad from Nottingham crow barring his songs into an image of California. I hesitate to use the word ‘concept’ (with all the attendant associations with bloated 70’s Rock stars blowing pomposity up their posteriors) but you can see it – there’s a cohesiveness and it works.

“CALI” is a great debut album and the best part of it is the promise it holds for future releases from Shadows Like Strangers.

Review - Chris Watson

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