The professional musician and singer-songwriter Archie Shuttler releases his most mature and conceptual project to date with a 14-track album entitled 'When the Heavy Breaks.'
Having written and released music over the past fifteen years under different stage names led Archie Shuttler down various creative paths to showcase his artistic versatility. Toning down the comedy and emphasizing more adult subject matter with his recent album, 'When the Heavy Breaks,' we're more than excited to introduce this album to our readers as it's not one to forget.
The album opens with the smooth and groovy intro track, "Here Comes the Moon," which instantly showcases Archie Shuttler's mesmerizing and low-toned vocal stylings and his rhythmic basslines and soothing acoustic guitar. Moving into the second track, "Literal," we can't help but get a laugh from humorous lyrics like "Your stimulation is not clitoral, and now 'sapiosexual' is a trendy thing to be on Tinder." Jumping into the next track, "Shit on Your Shoe," Archie Shuttler delves into a more monstrous and raspy vocal tone while explaining how he wants to be ignored until he starts to stew up like the treat under his shoe.
Moving into "Counting my Coins in the Graveyard," Archie Shuttler continues with the same low-toned and raspy vocal, singing of making just enough to head home while being haunted by a ghostly man. Reaching "Bonnie Prince Silly," Archie Shuttler gets more personal and emotional through his lyrics that reference the darker trenches plowed by Will Oldham and his frilly dresses/painted fingernails. Heading into "Just Another White Guy," the song touches on the recent suicide of the Silver Jews' David Berman. "EVerything Has Changed" allows the listener to bask in Archie Shuttler's lyricism that touches on how his town isn't filled with the same friendly people while questioning if it will ever go back to the way things were.
Moving into "How I Made my Millions," this song is incredibly gentle and haunting in instrumentation, while Archie Shuttler offers a beautiful rendition of Thom Yorke's original song. His next song, "I Am Many Things," Archie Shuttler touches on the many feelings he embodies while serenading us over his dynamic and melodic instrumentation. Landing on "How I Made My Pennies," this song is a tender instrumental that sonically references how Archie Shuttler makes a living as a busker. We must note the lyrical dexterity and poetic abilities that Archie Shuttler has placed into this record, especially on the next track, "Ship of Promises, Sea of Lies," which expands on the bounty of guilt that Archie Shuttler holds due to a broken and troubled relationship.
Reaching the next tune, "When I Break," Archie Shuttler sings an ode to the mentorship he found in Bill Callahan while summoning the strength to be as courageous as him. Diving into "The Hairs on my Chinny Chin Chin," Archie Shuttler offers a conceptual message of spending years in the smog only to grow older and finally live with a sense of optimism. Closing the album with "Found Black Dog," Archie Shuttler offers a sequel to his previous album closer, "Lost: Black Dog," which acts as a symbol of depression. As Archie Shuttler closes the song and album, he touches on his hopes for many performances and journeys to greet him on life's evolving journey.
We're thoroughly impressed with the many references and metaphors that Archie Shuttler has placed into his 14-track album, 'When the Heavy Breaks." Find the album on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic Archie Shuttler, and congratulations on your recent conceptual album, 'When the Heavy Breaks.' What inspired the creation of this thorough and dynamic album?
Thanks! I didn’t particularly set out to make a conceptual album but if people see it that way that’s cool. I had a bit of a purple patch with songs kind of pouring out of me and when I stepped back and looked at them I saw a bit of a narrative running through them and started to put the album together a bit like a film – starting out a bit mysterious, gradually building up to some pretty intense, cathartic songs and then eventually “breaking” and becoming more serene. The last two tracks on the album are also the two I wrote most recently and might point towards the kind of stuff I might write on my next one. There’s also a lot of references to the music I've been listening to over the time I wrote the album – anyone who knows Bill Callahan, Smog, Bonnie Prince Billy, and David Berman from Silver Jews might pick up on those nods. The “Bill” and “Billy” who get mentioned in several songs started out being me having a conversation in song with Bonnie Prince Billy and Bill Callahan and then kind of grew into his own character.
Is there a track within 'When the Heavy Breaks' that's the most personal to you? Which song speaks to you the most and why?
Ooh, well I guess I am Many Things and Ship of Promises are the most obviously personal – they came out of the break-up of my marriage about 5 years ago and are fairly obvious about that. I wrote them a few years ago under the name Floppy Haired Art Fuck on an album called Fragile Little Creature. That was an intensely personal album – very abrasive with lots of distorted guitars but I thought those two songs could also work with violins and cellos, etc so I brought them back and reworked them for this album. Because they’re older songs I guess the feelings in them aren’t as raw for me in my life as they were when I wrote them so the ones that speak to me the most currently are the last two – as I said before they’re the most recent and also the most optimistic – they're about growing up, finding happiness and contentment in a new relationship and getting older and actually seeing that as a good thing. Sorry I was supposed to just pick one, haha.
Do you usually create a warm nod to country music with your instrumentals, similar to the instrumental arrangements within 'When the Heavy Breaks?' Did you grow up familiarizing yourself with country music?
I wouldn’t say usually no – my first solo album was more like icy synth music done on a cheap Casio, the next one was all over the place stylistically and quite brash in places and it’s only really with this new one that I’ve gone for this warmer sound with instruments you often find in country music like fiddle and banjo. You wouldn’t normally hear cello or piano in country music but it adds a depth and richness that I love and cellos and pianos feature quite a lot in the alt-country that Bonnie Prince Billy puts out so I guess it’s not completely unheard of in the genre. As the previous two albums were quite keyboard-based I wanted to do this one very differently and make it more earthy and organic. As for whether I grew up listening to country music – no not really – that’s also more recently. I also only really listen to the kind of country music that a lot of country fans probably don’t like – Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, and David Berman all write country-esque songs but they twist the genre and make it a lot darker, complex, and more intelligent in my opinion. And I’ve only really got into those three guys in the last 5 years or so.
What sort of thoughts or realizations did you want to strike within the listener through your recent album, 'When the Heavy Breaks?’
Hmm, maybe that whimsy, humor, silliness, heaviness, and happiness can co-exist and that part of maturing is being able to hold all those in balance and integrate them into your sense of self. I wanted to take the listener on a bit of a journey - in the middle, there’s a lot of me confronting some of my demons and I hope that that might encourage people who empathize to do the same because everyone’s got issues they need to work through to a greater or lesser extent. And I guess the pay-off is that in working through heavy stuff you can arrive at a place of calm and peace. I’d say that’s probably something universal in the human experience and I hope people can relate to the narrative structure – it's almost archetypal – the hero’s journey kind of thing.
Does a running theme or concept present itself through all of your albums? Is 'When the Heavy Breaks' a follow-up story to your recent records?
Not really no – the previous album was kind of remarkable in that the theme was that there was no coherent theme! With this one, I didn’t set out to have a running theme but as I wrote it I started weaving connections between songs. Sonically and lyrically it does work together as a whole more than my previous two solo albums. And regarding whether this is a follow-up to the previous records, the previous one - ‘Evens and Beginnings’ - ended with the song Lost Black Dog and this one ends with a kind of partner song – Found Black Dog. The black dog motif does make an appearance in some other songs too, like the Bill/Billy character popping up throughout the album. I suppose it’s a follow-up in the sense that the previous albums were a bit more innocent, childlike, and brash and this one is more mature, and the voice sounds more experienced. I think that’s heading in the right direction!