Release Date: Nov 3, 2017
Record label: Father/Daughter Records
‘Revelations' is a fitting title for Shamir's new record. Born out of creative frustration, it's a starkly different prospect to the glossy, euphoric pop of debut 'Ratchet', and sees the Las Vegas musician returning to his outsider roots after becoming an "accidental pop star". Like the self-released 'Hope' - which he put out with little fanfare after parting ways with old label XL - 'Revelations' is a grittier record; like the sawtooth bourbon chaser to 'Ratchet'’s fizzy, sugary lemonade.
Revelations is a space for healing; after the release of his 2015 debut Ratchet, Shamir was dropped by record label XL, and while contemplating quitting music altogether he self-recorded follow-up Hope in one weekend and released it independently via SoundCloud earlier this year. Almost immediately after, Shamir spent time in a psychiatric hospital due to mental health struggles, an experience which resulted in him writing and recording most of Revelations in two weeks once he had returned home to Las Vegas. In the face of all of this, the album is an optimistic new chapter of Shamir's tale.
T hings haven't gone swimmingly for 22-year-old Shamir Bailey since he made a splash with his 2015 debut, Ratchet. The androgynous Las Vegan was dropped by his record label and hospitalised with mental-health issues. However, strife has produced a rebirth. The debut's shimmering postmodern disco has been ditched for a lo-fi but somehow bigger sound, which mixes Pixies-type basslines and skyscraping, 60s girl-group pop.
After making a splash with his debut LP, Ratchet, Las Vegas musician Shamir (real name Shamir Bailey) experienced what, from the outside, looked like a dream scenario of overnight success. His album was critically acclaimed, he was signed to one of the most well-respected labels around (XL) and he had his face on a Times Square billboard. But Bailey wasn't happy, spending what should have been his victory lap feeling like an imposter--referring to himself as "an accidental pop star." In danger of self-destructing, he took a step back, self-releasing Hope on SoundCloud earlier this year.
Shamir Bailey's tale is one of reclamation. The 22-year-old musician underwent a series of personal and professional dilemmas over the past two years, and the result is a drastic reinvention of his sound from a sleek, playful, disco-inspired pop towards a pensive, soulful approach to lo-fi rock. More Kim Deal than Donna Summer, Shamir's new record, Revelations, lives up to its name as it opens a window into his struggles.
Earlier this year, Shamir self-released an album on SoundCloud called Hope. It was about as homemade-pop as you could get, complete with background noise and a buzzing amp. With that came the news that he had been dropped from his label, XL, and was abandoning his debut's dance-pop sound for something that came more naturally to him. The result, Revelations, is lo-fi bedroom pop and hews much closer to DIY heroes like (Sandy) Alex G or early Youth Lagoon than the clubby beats contained on 2015's bright, effervescent Ratchet.
L ast spring's surprisingly lo-fi second album, Hope, found Las Vegas singer-songwriter Shamir Bailey pursuing a more serious sound. Where his 2015 debut Ratchet was all sugary electro bangers, his latest is minimalist, dissonant and raw. Stripped-down piano pop and romantic, Sixpence None the Richer-style guitars (sometimes quasi-country, at points almost grunge) underpin Shamir's disarming, glimmering falsetto and his endearingly theatrical conceits ("I'm too strong to just lay down and die," he sings on Blooming).
Unacquainted with Shamir's disco-fuelled 2015 debut 'Ratchet'? Not to worry. Follow-up 'Revelations' bears absolutely no resemblance to the glitter-ball, dancefloor-glued fix of his first work. It's a completely fresh start. In part, that's because Shamir Bailey's first stint at the big time saw him embracing a genre he didn't even like.
When Shamir Bailey returned only six short months ago with his second album, Hope, it signaled a drastic change in direction, sound, aesthetic--frankly, just about everything. The Las Vegas-born, Philadelphia-based songwriter had been previously lauded for his excellent debut, 2015's Ratchet, an all-killer dance record filled to the brim with bubbly choruses and club-pop hooks. Hope was meant to wipe the slate clean, to rid Shamir of a persona he no longer felt represented him as a musician, and it did just that.
"Can someone tell me why I always seem to let these straight boys run my life?" Shamir sings on his new album, "Revelations" (Father/Daughter). The Las Vegas-born singer has never fit in, musically or otherwise, and after the fickle twists of pop stardom that changed his life the past couple years, he's addressing his perpetual misfit status head-on in his latest batch of songs. Shamir Bailey's 2015 album, "Ratchet," turned him into an unlikely star -- one who crossed lines of gender and genre with electro-pop that somehow managed to be both danceable and introspective.