Sometimes ‘multi-instrumentalist’ just doesn’t say enough. Shannon Hayden is one such example. On first glance, she’s a classically trained cellist, but only moments into her music listeners are thrown for a loop…literally. Hayden utilizes looping devices and sampling machines, along with her cello and voice, and occasionally other instruments including guitar, mandolin, percussion, found sounds, and whatever she can bang on her cello to create the sound she needs.
Today, Shannon Hayden releases her second album Solid State Cello to online audiences. The ten-song collection was again recorded at her ‘off-the-grid’, solar-powered home studio in Martinsville, IL, and showcases her vivid creations that are a mix of classical, electronica, rock, and folk styles. A young and extremely talented musician and composer, Hayden has an ear for manipulating sound, building a theme, and dissolving boundaries in her compositions. Although, she uses looping devices and effects to layer and combine various instrument voices, Hayden seems very skilled in playing on top of the loop and capturing the bold cello sound, so that you can barely pick out where the live lines begin and when they become a part of the loop. A great example of this is in “1960s Black and White”, a daring cello piece full of light and dark passages which are illustrated carefully through the high and low voices of the cello and a meticulous use of dynamics.
This album proudly showcases how beautiful and diverse the cello voice can be, fitting into all the musical nooks and crannies that are often ignored. On top of that, Hayden happens to be a proficient singer as well, lending her own voice when she can find enough space between cello playing and pedal tapping.
Recommended Tracks: “1960’s Black and White”, “Blown Away”, “Bus Trip to Mars”, “Sketching in a Lonely Park”
Last night I had the pleasure of hosting WFHB’s Local Live at White Arc Studios on which Shannon Hayden was a featured musical guest, along with local band the Jefferson Street Parade Band. Both acts put on extraordinary sets. Here is a video from the performance featuring “Bus Trip to Mars”: