The Shadowboxers | The Slow March of Time Flies By | (independent release)
Three out of Five Stars
Nostalgia can be kickstarted in several different ways. It might be an old movie, a faded photograph, a call from a long-lost friend or family member. Or, it might simply be triggered by music of a vintage variety, a sound given to a particular place in time — or, perhaps better put, a sound displaced by time.
The Shadowboxers ought to know. They channel a series of prevailing influences and with them, the sounds that once nurtured the radio-ready, dance-driven echoes of an era when the disco denizens were all infected by the same strains of Saturday night fever. With songs ranging from the wallop of the Bee Gees to the soulful strains of lavish yet tender ballads (along with some obvious hints of hip-hop and current commercial R&B tossed in for good measure), the Atlanta-based band — Scott Tyler (vocals, guitar), Adam Hoffman (vocals, guitar), Matt Lipkins (vocals, keyboards) and Carlos Enamorado (bass guitar) — excel at songs that are both fastidious and familiar all at the same time.
It’s that timelessness that makes the title of their new album, The Slow March of Time Flies By, seem so appropriate.
“If you’ve seen us live, you’d know that we write songs that sound like The Jacksons and some that sound like CSN and everywhere in between,” Tyler notes. “Defining our goals for this album was key for directing our songwriting. At the bullseye of who we are is our three-part harmony. It’s been the thread that’s tied our wide range of music together, so we wanted to feature it prominently. And after moving across the country, getting out of some unfavorable business contracts, and becoming totally independent, we felt open and vulnerable and wanted to reflect that in our lyrics. So with those guidelines in mind, we picked out some of our favorites that we’d written over the last few years — there are hundreds— and started writing new ones. Some were co-writes and some we made from scratch.”
Their debut LP release, The Slow March of Time Flies By manages to coalesce the sound and style that’s been at the core of their approach all along. “We can see elements of our whole career in this album,” Tyler maintains. “That’s a lot of ground to cover, and I like to think we’re the only band that can do it.”
Indeed, songs such as “Honeymoon,” “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,”“How Many Ways” and “Won’t Ever Say Goodbye” in particular find the band’s luminous harmonies billowing up at the fore — joyful, confident and emphatic all at the same time. It’s unapologetic pop, an approach that sounds as if it was trapped in a time warp during the ‘70s and ‘80s, when bellbottoms, platform shoes and disco lights were the mandatory accoutrements for weekend of revelry.
Here again, the Shadowboxers draw from experience. “We started as a live band,” Tyler explains. “We probably played 200 shows before we ever got into a studio. Our holy grail has always been trying to find a way to capture the energy of our live show and translate it into a recording, but it’s something we’ve always struggled with. Over the last three or four years, as we’ve been writing and demoing our songs, we’ve logged those vital hours learning how to best record ourselves. So much so, that when it came time to record this album, and we were thinking about who could produce it, Adam was like, ‘Guys, I think I got this.’ And we’re so grateful he stepped up and we all fell in behind him and knew what to do. This album represents the progression of our relationship with recording ourselves, from rough iphone recordings and looking elsewhere for a producer to figure out our sound to now, being a totally self reliant unit with a decades-worth of experience to pull from.”
That said, Tyler describes the new album in just three words — “simplicity, sophistication, and vulnerability.”
“After a ten year journey of working with a lot of people and experimenting with different genres and styles, we realized we needed to get rid of any outside influence and see who we really are…without anyone helping us make that decision,” he continues. “Our previous album Apollo, was designed to be sleek, big, and bold, and after we finished touring behind it, we felt the need to reclaim some of the warmer, more organic elements of our songwriting that we’d never quite captured on our recordings. So we went into the studio hoping to find out the answer to the question, ‘What do we sound like if it’s just us in the room?’ Where would we go if we had complete freedom to decide, with no one pushing us in any direction?”
Released in the midst of the pandemic, the new album made those questions a bit more difficult to answer, and Tyler admits that the events of this year have created an additional challenge when it comes to reestablishing their reputation.
“This year has thrown us for a loop, as it has done for a lot of people, so our expectations for the album can’t be fully met right now,” he allows “We were supposed to be on a nationwide tour through the summer and fall. But rather than dwell on what could have been, we’ve rallied around the fact that we have an amazing group of fans who show up for us all the time, and that we accomplished the goal of making the album we set out to make. We believe The Slow March of Time Flies By is a timeless record that will be standing on its own two feet when the dust settles from this pandemic, and when it does, we’ll be ready to play it.”