Revealing True Character
Indie artist Shamir Bailey, aka Shamir, went through an interesting turn-around in his career to give us his new work Revelations. Originally from Las Vegas, the singer-songwriter had early success with his 2014 EP Northtown and in the same year signed with XL Recordings to release his breakout hip-hop track “On The Regular.” Not wanting to go the direction set for him any longer, Shamir, who calls himself an “accidental pop star,” self-released his second album Hope in April 2017, after being dropped by his label. Shamir went through a psychotic episode shortly afterwards that put him in the hospital where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He had considered quitting music. When he returned to Las Vegas, he started working on Revelations, his third album. Most of it was recorded in two weeks.
On Revelations, Shamir takes his soulful, countertenor voice and pairs it with raw, painfully-honest lyrics. The lo-fi instrumentation has a rough-around-the-edges feel to it. It sounds like the ideas flow from the artist’s imagination straight to the recording, without the filters of slick production or showy effects. It sounds like Shamir is more in tune with his artistry and message than ever before.
The album begins with “Games,” a song about Shamir’s feelings concerning the business side to his music. “I don’t have much to offer you but my soul, my heart, and everything I’ve been through. But you just see the green,” he sings over a dark chords on the keyboard.
Shamir reaches out to his often misunderstood generation in the song “90s Kids.” His lilting melodies play over a sparse arrangement as he relates to the millennial crowd. The lyrics “So put a drink in the air for the college girls and boys / Paralyzing anxiety is just a chore,” capture his attitude on the struggles he and his generation find themselves facing.
“Cloudy” is a warm, melodic and slightly folk sounding song with a message about self-acceptance. Shamir’s soft vocals with a subtle, but effective harmony make for soothing listen. He offers his wisdom on the track, singing “the stress will kill you if you allow it.”
“Straight Boys” closes out the album, an up-front lament on typical straight male tendencies. Fuzzy guitars and a feel-good pop chord progression keep the tune accessible and catchy. Shamir reveals a deeper meaning to the track, saying it’s about, “whitewashing and queer baiting in media.” His direct, almost conversational delivery makes his truth-telling even more immediate. It’s a strength of his employed effectively throughout the album.
Overall, this album is a simple, easily digestible mix of bedroom pop. Shamir’s emotional vocals are the most interesting aspect, compelling you to listen to what he has to say. From a person with a past of troubles and triumphs, Revelations sounds like a step in a confident direction with a newfound purpose in staying true to yourself.