The Shandies: ‘Letting Go’ Lets Them Find Inspiration

by Ed Peaco

The Shandies, Natalie Wlodarczyk and Shannon Stine, have delivered another album of thought-provoking, word-crafting and heart-rending music — but more so: more gripping stories, broader musical palette.

The release event for the new work, Lemon Peel, will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, November 7, at Lindbergs.

Natalie wrote the 12 songs, mostly with a theme of letting go. She sings and plays rhythm guitar. Shannon sings and plays versatile sounds on acoustic and electric guitar. Jimmy Rea had a huge part of the quality of the project as co-producer, recording and mixing engineer, Natalie said.

“The title track is about looking back at childhood memories with adult eyes and processing them differently,” Natalie said. “When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade, but sometimes you still hold onto the peel.” This metaphor for personal baggage from the past — processing and letting go of that “lemon peel” — shows us how we can be held back in life, she said.

Shannon said she has been enjoying being involved in Natalie’s song writing over the last year and a half.

“I love the songs and have had fun coming up with guitar parts and harmonies to add,” Shannon said. “I really admire Natalie’s ability to come up with catchy melodies and concise, colorful language to express universally relatable ideas and emotions.”

Some pithy lines from three more songs in the key of letting go:

“The Heart Locker”: “I could save everything but it won’t bring back the time stashed away …”

“Broken Eggshells”: “If you’re standing still, then you’ll never be all right.”

“Always Saying Goodbye”: “Letting go is not walking away; it’s deciding to stop fighting the pull of the tide.”

One of the songs has lyrics that pack a queasy feeling, “Really Nice Guy,” prompted by recent shootings. In the aftermath of these tragedies, Natalie has noticed that so many of those interviewed who knew the killer would say things like “‘Wow, I’m so shocked! He was a really nice guy.’”

Strong performances emphasize the mood of this piece: Shannon on electric guitar, Ivy Schulte on drums and Kim Painter on bass. “Keeping it low and dirty on the bass, this track came to life in the way I’d always heard it in my head,” Natalie said.

“Finally Awake” is inspired by author Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness,” an examination of comprehensive erosion of individuals and institutions. While the lyrics make you ponder our future, Ivy and Kim join the Shandies for a rockin’ outing that sounds a little like a Tom Petty song.

For a pleasant interlude, listen to “Hygge.” This Danish concept (pronounced “hoo-gah) is aligned with the art of winter coziness. Molly Healey brings long tones on cello. Natalie is on the acoustic guitar playing the finger style throughout, though Shannon plays the acoustic guitar solo in the middle.

These songs may encourage you to discard your lemon peel. The exercise may take a load off your back and help you become finally awake.

(See more of Ed Peaco’s work on his website. Headline photo by Matt Loveland.)

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