Animal Joy, Shearwater’s latest, has a ragged edge about it – lots of catches and snags that grab your attention. The elevator bassline of “Open Your Houses” is simple, but it digs its heels in. On “Insolence” the chilling guitar and skittering drums raise the hackles on the back of your neck, and lead single “Breaking the Yearlings” is dark and primal – the beating heart that lies beneath.
On February 19, 2012, Shearwater played their new songs for Madison, Wisconsin, at the High Noon Saloon. The songs translate well to a live setting; the sound is thick, every note deliberate. Singer and founding member Jonathan Meiburg’s voice is extremely powerful, nearly taking the house down on its own. While Shearwater’s songs generally have a serious, almost urgent feel, Meiburg and company are affable and clearly happy to be on stage.
Unsurprisingly, the songs that stood out most on the album are the same songs that shone brightest on stage, with the addition of a lovely performance of “I Was a Cloud” off of 2008’s Rook. While a bit of a sleeper on record, it hit a nerve when performed live, harnessing the electricity of the room to feed its quiet intensity.