# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Sam Shinazzi - Then I Held My Breath

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 23 / 7 / 2009

Sam Shinazzi - Then I Held My Breath
Label: Black Lodge Audio Records
Format: CD


Captivating and long-awaited second album from Sydney-based singer-songwriter Sam Shinazzi, which matches up to its predecessor, the masterly 'Stories Uou Wouldn't Believe'

It’s been four years since Sydney singer-songwriter Sam Shinazzi released ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe', a collection of twelve songs which sound as good today as when we first heard them. There wasn’t a dud song on that album and Shinazzi’s vulnerable, world-weary vocals and captivating melodies turned what could have been just another decent album into a classic. After what must be thousands of plays the song ‘Out Of The Question’ has lost none of its appeal and with its heartbreaking last line, “Please remember I always meant to brighten up your day…even though it wasn’t always that way” and the driving beat and searing guitar that precedes those words it is a contender for the greatest pop song ever. With that one song Shinazzi has captured everything that is great about pop music. Thoughtful, touching lyrics, immaculate playing and production and a gorgeous melody all come together on this track and if you get a chance to listen to just one Sam Shinazzi song then make it ‘Out Of The Question’. We all had an idea, of course, that with ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe’ Shinazzi would turn in at the very least an interesting collection of songs; the previous year he had blown most of the competition out of the water with his contribution to Jenny Queen’s ‘Girls Who Cry Need Cake’ album but I wonder how many really thought that his next album would be a classic despite his outstanding song on Queen’s album. ‘Then I Held My Breath’ has a lot to live up to then. It could be argued that Shinazzi hasn’t really moved on from the sound of ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe’. The twelve original songs on this latest album could have been added to that album making it a double set and the join would not have been noticed. While some fans might have liked Shinazzi to take another direction and tried something different this time around, for those of us who felt that ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe’ is the perfect album then more of the same is just what we needed. It’s a winning formula, why mess with it? Again mainly dealing with matters of the heart, Shinazzi has the perfect singing voice for this, his vocals sound bruised. Shinazzi always sounds like he is on the verge of cracking-up but for the most part there is just this small ray of light that gets through, if not in his lyrics then in, say, the sound of the guitars. Shinazzi and his band make their instruments talk; there are moments throughout this album where the instrumental passages, no matter how short, continue to convey the feelings that Shinazzi has displayed in his vocals and it is those occasions where one feels a sense of optimism. That said one of the most affecting songs on this album, ‘Walking’, sees Shinazzi leaving his usual subject matter of loves lost and found and taking a late night stroll to shake off the demons following him around. Taken at a deathly pace and with a ghostly, stripped-bare sound again it’s a situation we can all relate to. But even then Shinazzi, to find some solace, thinks of "a beautiful face". I asked in a review of ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe’ just how many times Shinazzi has had his heart broken, so touching and real his lyrics were. I guess in some way he has answered as the song ‘Girls’ is a list of the female names who "make his world turn" when he is down. It’s another catchy Shinazzi melody which will set up home in your head from the first listen and stay there all day. ‘Queen Of The Supermarket’ was a highlight on Bruce Springsteen’s latest album, 'Working on a Dream', and Shinazzi writes a similar tale here with ‘My Very Own Mary-Ellen’ and matches the Boss both lyrically and musically. At this present moment in time I can’t say that ‘Then I Held My Breath’ is, track for track, as strong as ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe’ but time will tell if these songs still hold up four years down the line, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that they will ; as we were expecting greatness from Shinazzi, whatever he came up with would pale against that last album, but these songs are growers for sure and if any other artist presented us with twelve songs as strong and melodic as these then we would be shouting how brilliant he is. Shinazzi hasn’t failed in following up ‘Stories You Wouldn’t Believe’ with another collection of superb songs but somehow we expected that, didn’t we?

Track Listing:-
1 Today We Lost a Great One
2 Forge My Signature
3 Blue-Belle
4 Please Don't Let Me Forget
5 Girls
6 Lil' Wandering Soul
7 Walking
8 My Very Own Mary-Ellen
9 Graduation Girl
10 This Could Be Something
11 Thinking
12 Something Great Must Come From This

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