Mightmare/Cruel Liars/Kill Rockstars
3.5 Out of Five Stars
Conceived out of the necessity forced on her by the pandemic, Sarah Shook temporarily put ongoing backing band the Disarmers on hold and took the initiative to create a solo album that was wholly written, produced, and engineered entirely by Shook. Shook poured all her energy and enthusiasm into the project, resulting in a set of songs that are uniform, emotive, and fully reflective of Shook’s own intents. Falling somewhere between a long player and an EP, it boasts eight songs that maintain a steady stride without any excesses to any extreme.
As a result, songs such as “Come What May,” “Saturn Turns” and “Cruel Liars” maintain an even keel that’s both steadfast and assured, but not wholly emphatic to any great degree. That said, “Enemy” and “Make It Work” maintain a steady stomp that implies added importance. Shook’s unassuming vocals maintain a lock on the emotion to a certain degree, although, oddly enough, the otherworldly ambiance of the aptly-titled “Easy” does bring more than a hint of happiness and some upturned enthusiasm gleaned from a personal perspective. It’s so easy to want you, Shook sings, underscoring her optimism and satisfaction in the process.
Shook ends the album with “Sure Thing,” its droning melody tempering the proceedings with cautionary concerns. The only thing I know for sure is there’s no such thing as a sure thing, she insists in the midst of the song’s tingling tones and textures. It’s intriguing to an extent, and further evidence of the album’s underlying DIY designs. That’s the charm that’s inherent in the effort overall, and part of the reason Shook’s ambition and invention ought to be applauded.
Chances are, Mightmare is only a transitory effort, and now that things are returning to normal, Shook will likely resume work with the Disarmers at the earliest opportunity. In the interim, Cruel Liars provides a comforting caress.
Photo by Jillian Clark / All Eyes Media