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Sam Shinazzi - Days I Won't Forget

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 26 / 5 / 2023

Sam Shinazzi - Days I Won't Forget
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


In our 'Re:VIew' section' Malcolm Carter reflects on last year's sixth studio album from Australian singer-songwriter Sam Shinazzi, this time produced by power pop legend Michael Carpenter, which proved an inspired move that has produced Shinazzi’s finest album to date.

Six studio albums in and Sam Shinazzi has yet to allow a merely great song space on any of his albums. In fact the Australian singer/songwriter (make that master storyteller/master of melodies) always finds space for a handful of absolute timeless, classic songs amongst his fascinating tales. Except for his latest offering, ‘Days I Won’t Forget’; every one of the ten songs on the album are instant classics. There’s no filler, no dip in quality, although three of the songs have been ‘singled’ out already for special attention (via videos) every song deserves to be heard and loved. Every song a shining little gem. For ‘Days I Won’t Forget’ Shinazzi has teamed up with Power Pop legend Michael Carpenter. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Carpenter’s involvement would have added a slightly harder edge to Shinazzi’s music, after all Power Pop is what Carpenter is best known for and Shinazzi has shown on previous outings that he has the melodies, but there’s a more country vibe going on through a number of these songs than has been noticed on Shinazzi’s earlier albums. Although maybe that shouldn’t come as any great surprise given that fairly recent country album from Carpenter with The Banks Brothers. It was an inspired move, putting these two Australian musicians who initially seemed to have little in common musically together. Apart from playing and co-producing the album (with Shinazzi) Carpenter also directed the three videos that have so far emerged to promote ‘Days I Won’t Forget’. There’s no end to the man’s talent it seems. Hey, he wrote ‘Emily Says’. That’s enough for legend status right there. But for all Carpenter’s involvement (and other musicians and vocalists add so much to these songs), it’s Shinazzi’s songs we are devoting these few paragraphs to. And what songs they are. It’s always a bit of a cliché to say an artist’s album is their best to date, especially given the high standard of all of Shinazzi’s previous work, but in this case it is true. ‘Days I Won’t Forget’ kicks off, literally, with ‘Last Night Bruce Springsteen Saved My Life’; Shinazzi eloquently detailing the end of a relationship set to a melody and arrangement The Boss himself should be proud of. It’s an absolute cracking start to the album; proof that Shinazzi has lost none of his storytelling talent nor his knack of producing instantly catchy melodies. The opening verse finds the unfortunate soul returning to an (almost) empty and dark house. His wife and children have left so what’s to do? The poor guy doesn’t even know what he’s done to deserve this. So out comes the bottle, ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Time’ finds its way to the turntable and, sitting in the dark, the guy reflects on what he maybe did wrong and what is to come, what he'd do differently if there were a next time. “In a beat of your heart, I became your past”, the heartbreaking words betraying the upbeat musical backing even though they complement each other perfectly. ‘I’m Gonna Miss You’ finds Shinazzi’s usual world-weary vocals at their most affecting. Again eloquently describing the emotions felt by losing someone close. initially the listener might think Shinazzi is addressing the song to a former lover or partner but by the close it appears he is maybe singing about a parent, “Hey, I wanna thank you/If not for you I would not be here today/I have your blood in my heart and it carries me through the dark and it will guide me back to you.” Take it to suit your own needs, but as with the majority of Shinazzi’s lyrics they help you through dark and happy times. Again, the backing is superb; the sound of Graeme Trewin’s drums and Adam ‘T-Bone’ Taylor’s lead guitar really bring Shinazzi’s lyrics to life. The theme of looking back, reminiscing and memories is strong throughout ‘Days I Won’t Forget’’. Maybe the title has more meaning than just a line from ‘I Wrote A Book For You’ and if that song sounds familiar from the first listen it’s maybe because it featured in the 2018 film ‘Book Week’. Another ultra- catchy melody again brilliantly played by all concerned and Shinazzi’s vocals are simply superb. It’s not the first time we’ve mentioned this but the listener gets the feeling Shinazzi is singing directly to you and you alone. Maybe it’s the personal nature of these songs but the thing with Shinazzi is that he articulates what most of us feel at one time or another. It’s not just Shinazzi’s life which is laid bare in these songs; it’s mine and yours to. What can one say about ‘Closing Time’? That it’s Shinazzi’s best ever song? But that then puts so many of his other classics in the shade. That it’s one of the best country-infused break-up songs ever? We’ll go for that. With Jy-Perry Banks pedal steel weeping all over the song and the angelic voice of Katie Brianna duetting with Shinazzi it’s a heartbreaking performance from all involved. The production informs Shinazzi’s lyrics perfectly. You’ll find yourself waiting in that lonely bar “ I drunk a bottle of Kentucky whiskey meant for two/I listened to The Jayhawks for hours and now I’m blue.” During that last line Katie Brianna’s heavenly vocals join Shinazzi’s, it’s a heart-stopping moment. Further down the line, “And these could be the last words that I say to you/This could be the break-up we both needed to go through”, the music fades to just an acoustic and Shinazzi’s melancholy vocals before Katie joins him again; the result is simply stunning. The perfect song? Without a doubt. ‘See You Again’ is a jaunty road-trip song. Again those country influences shine through on a song in the style of what brings back memories of earlier Shinazzi albums. ‘Take Me Away’ is again classic Shinazzi, a catchy melody with thoughtful lyrics which so many can identify with. ‘Kindred Spirits’ is Shinazzi once more singing a song for all of us, “You wanted someone to sing pretty words to you/This is something I was born to do.” You’re not wrong there, Sam ; it’s a love song like no other, sounds fluttering in and out, an absolute killer of a melody, the chorus is impossible to shake off once heard, the wordless backing vocals which are breathtaking all combine to make this another Shinazzi classic. It matters not if you’ve never been to ‘Chatters Café’, as Shinazzi sings you’ll find yourself being his companion, visiting the record store that ‘changed our lives forever’; he paints such vivid pictures with his lyrics and with backing so in tune with his stories these are perfect, complete, honest songs. The closing ‘Blue So Blue’ isn’t the saddest song on the album but with Jy-Perry Banks’ pedal steel and Katie Brianna’s vocals coupled with one of Shinazzi’s most melancholic vocal performances it’s the perfect way to close ‘Days I Won’t Forget’, a definite highlight in Sam Shinazzi’s career. While artists want to move on (and Shinazzi has on this album) and never willingly like to make the same album twice we can only hope that the team Shinazzi chose to produce and perform ‘Days I Won’t Forget’ get together again in the near future. We need more albums of new, relevant music like this in our lives. The album is released by Stanley Records in Australia, a label that a little research shows has an impressive roster of artists, including a solo album by Katie Brianna which is worth checking out as are most of the albums issued by the label. If alt-country in all its guises is your thing you’ll find plenty to love there. But for now make ‘Days I Won’t Forget’ your first stop. You’ll find yourself taking up residency.

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Sam Shinazzi - Days I Won't Forget

Sam Shinazzi - Days I Won't Forget

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