SHANE ARCHER REED Releases Dynamically Explosive 'Mirror on The Wall'
(Reviewed by Jakob Sanchez)
Insomnia lurks in every corner of Mirror on the Wall, the latest album from Upstate New York rock musician Shane Archer Reed. The centerpiece of the record is track seven, Man on the Moon, a song all about said subject. All of the album’s themes of loneliness, regret, and a wanting to return to the childlike feeling of being carefree are in this track: on an isolated, sleepless night. The twinkling piano scattered all throughout the song gives it a feeling of a lullaby- even telling a fairytale of the titular Man on the Moon. He relates to the moon because he can feel its' lonesome nature as it shines in its room. These thoughts keep him awake, and the last line, “It’s 2AM and I can’t sleep again”, the same lyric as the opening statement of the song, shows that this is cyclical; never-ending, repeating over and over.
The structure of Mirror on the Wall is one of the strongest assets of the record. Reed’s biggest influences come from musical theater, and more operatic, bombastic rock groups whose works were meant for the stage such as Queen, Marianas Trench, and the mid-2000s output of Green Day. The album opens with an overture, similar to how most stage musicals open. Shane’s voice is pristine, the vocal layerings and stylings of his voice sounding like a bow moving back and forth on the strings of a violin. Man on the Moon, track seven of fourteen, works as the leading character having their big solo number as the curtain closes on them before the intermission, exactly what happens on the record, as the next song is an interlude. The album closes with three songs on reflection and a newfound happiness, Stop (And Smell the Roses), My Wildest Dreams, and Singing in the Street. Much like a character’s growth in a musical, Shane learns to accept himself for who he is, trying to develop a positive mindset, but not forgetting about the knowledge he has learned during his darkest moments, and trying to stay afloat. Singing in the street, as it is who he is.
This is easily Reed’s best produced record. Even though there are some cracks here and there, such as the tinny and dry sound of One Last Hope, and maybe the drums could have been mixed a tad louder on tracks such as As It Should Be to maintain the record’s theatrical quality, but the guitars sound clean, and the leading licks on tracks such as Moving Mountains (Dammit I'm Trying) sound crisp and anthem. Reed’s vocals sound just as theatrical as the album’s instrumentation itself, his voice soaring through each song.
The songwriting, the structure, and the moments of great production make the latest from Shane Archer Reed a damn good record, but in order to see his best moments as a performer, see him live. His voice explodes on stage, commands the attention of an audience, just like every time he sings his notes on stage center anytime he plays the lead in a musical. His musical theater roots translate well into the genre of rock, and his album is the perfect advertisement as to why his voice needs to be heard soaring through the speakers with an audience singing along. Support the local musicians and ensure they get bigger with each succeeding album.
(Reviewed by Jakob Sanchez)