Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pam Shaffer: New Album and the Three Clubs

Pam Shaffer - "It is Happening Again"
Photo by Zoe-Ruth Photography
Believe it or not, I first became familiar with Pam Shaffer's music many years ago at a backyard birthday party.  She reminds me about why I love Los Angeles so much - you can find all this amazing talent in the most random of places and see how the artist grows and evolves as time moves on.  I reflected on this as I've spent the last week listening to Pam Shaffer's new album It is Happening Again.  So much of what I loved about this album reflects why I was drawn to her music all those years ago - there are many rich elements to her songs, so much depth in detail and beauty.  Every song on It is Happening Again is a story that is each individually vibrant in its lyrical details and arrangements, making for a great album I highly recommend.

Shaffer's voice can be both forceable and light, but always memorable.  She spins us into tales that we can  envision and, I'm sure, can resonate with many listeners.  Remember This begins steady and slow, but becomes a  force to be reckoned with as its arrangement of beats and strings demand our attention and creates a beautiful and haunting memory.  In contrast, Silhouettes has a playful musical quality and energy that is paired with a story of a love lost.  Soon is a simple, sweet, and short piano and vocal number that resonates with the theme of longing and missing someone.

I truly love the poetic qualities of Shaffer's lyrics.  Synapses chorus has the brilliant line "Synapses slow / and you become sweet / who needs these chemicals I put in me".  In Absence Gained, Shaffer so directly sings "excise you from my life / oh with a scalpel so precise / you won't feel a thing, / oh just the sting, / just the stain, / just the pain of absence gained".  Drowning expresses love like drowning in a river: "Loving you is like drowning in a river - clear on the surface, dark all together now."  Heliotrope tells us of how "our faces tell a story that our lovers come to know/Etched in lines invisible 'til the time comes to show", ultimately advocating that "we're not growing a day younger [...] let's not waste a moment more / just do what you love to do."

While I enjoyed the entire album, my favorite songs are Play My Heart and Orpheus.  Play My Heart is directed to a lover, evoking a sense of the love and peace that can come from a relationship, asking that person to "play my heart like a record / caress every curve / every groove...." Orpheus uses musical metaphors like Play My Heart, but it is its thematic opposite - of a love that does/did not work - where the present is "any time you sing a song for someone else / it kills me."

Preview some tracks from her upcoming release on Bandcamp:

Pam Shaffer will be performing at an event called Chrysalis, also featuring artists Nostalghia (w/ Low Leaf) and The Moth & the Flame at Three Clubs on January 31st, 2013.  She will have limited edition download cards at the show  Her album It is Happening Again officially releases February 19th.  You can find her music on

-Charity Tran

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