“Norther” – Shane Smith & The Saints (2024) [english]

In my life there have been artists who immediately entered my soul.

Bands or singers that, from the first moment, I understood would never abandon me.

I remember very well the first time it happened with this band: as always I was looking for a new artist to review for the independent magazine I collaborated with.

I listened to an incredible song, All I See Is You and a crazy album (Geronimo) by a band I had never heard: Shane Smith & The Saints.

It was love at first listening: the melody, the moving voice, the violin played in a magical way, the guitars, the rhythm.

Investigating I had found their latest album with a cinematic cover: “Hail Mary

An original and uncategorizable sound: I had found something special and, as often happened to me, I had found what I was looking for in Texas.

5 years have passed.

5 years since this band’s last album.

5 years is a long time in the life of an independent band and under the bridge of the life of Shane Smith (vocals and guitar), Bennett Brown (violin and vocals), Chase Satterwhite (bass and vocals), Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar and vocals) and Zach Stover (drums and vocals), there has been so much rushing water that could have made anyone give up.

And, on the contrary, the Texan boys didn’t give up.

They believed in it more and more every day: they survived endless tours of 240 dates a year up and down the States, burned tour buses, accidents and years of anonymity and all this has brought them to where they are today.

Today they are one of the best known and best independent bands on the circuit.

They have thousands of ever-growing fans all over the world, have participated in the most important festivals, have been protagonists in episodes of a famous TV series and play as headliners in legendary concert locations.

The wait was feverish and, personally, I hadn’t waited for the release of an album like this since the days when I was a kid waiting for the new Metallica album.

Finally, after 5 long years, Shane Smith & The Saints‘ fourth album, Norther, is among us with the production of Beau Bedford and Shane Smith.

It’s new in part because 6 singles were released in support of the album and one of these singles was released in June 2022: so 2 years ago now.

It’s a job that is the quintessence of being independent: recorded between one date and another in Dallas, demanding, sweaty, but damned beautiful and poetic.

Shane Smith has always been fascinated by the power of nature and by its being both beauty and upheaval and this “North wind” that will hit your speakers is this: beauty and upheaval.

Just place the needle on the record and Book Of Joe starts, a sound that seems to come from far away of guitar and violin, a cinematic intro that then explodes in the now trademark sound of the Texan boys.

A pathos that grows and explodes, together with the rhythm, in the epic sound, up to the deep and emotional voice of Shane who tells us the story of a family that survives the death of the patriarch by working hard during the day and dancing in the evening.

As always, one of the secrets of Shane Smith & The Saints‘ sound is Bennett Brown‘s violin: a genius who will be a reference for generations to come and in this song he gives a juicy taste of it.

Guitars and violin also paint a film-like intro in Fire in The Sky: will it be rock? will it be country? will it be blues? It cannot be catalogued, but only moved when the leader’s fantastic voice brings the ethics of the song to crazy levels.

Satterwhite‘s bass embroiders a rhythm that envelops you and Stover‘s drums are a pulse that shakes the soul.

The solos are a glimpse in the stormy sky. Creepy.

Brown‘s wonderful violin introduces us to Adeline, but in this ballad it is Smith‘s voice that plays the part of the protagonist, singing to us about how she often realizes the importance of someone when they have been lost.

The backing vocals increase the intensity until the explosion of Dustin “Sunshine” Schaefer‘s fantastic guitar, which explodes into a goosebump-inducing solo and once again intertwines with the violin.

These guys are a wall of sound and take turns taking center stage.

I witnessed one of their live performances and it was a mystical experience, but the most incredible thing about this record was being able to lock that energy up in a box and then release it in the recording studio.

Even in The Greys Between you get excited, you dance to the rhythm of a rock that smells of country and the past.

A love story that passes through difficulties, wars and seas, but resists strong and does not want to fade.

Navajo Norther reaches the soul like the storm of the cover, like a film in which your eyes open wide, you let them wet with tears and your arms are covered in goosebumps. I have nothing else to say about this incredible piece: he left me so speechless.


Do you think you have reached the peak of emotion?

I warn you that Brown‘s violin has different ideas and in Field of Heather he paints another poignant cinematic picture that grips the stomach, together with the acoustic guitar and the rhythm that he beats.

The story could be a book, skill of the greats and tells of a veteran of the Second World War and the horrors he brought with him from Belgium.

The Nature and her power are always the protagonists, as are human resistance and his adaptation to the passing of time.

Wheels is, perhaps, the first piece that relaxes the soul.

A sweet and non-trivial ballad that Shane‘s wonderfully intense voice elevates to a simple and touching beauty.

The subsequent All The Way is a different type of ballad: only voice and piano, but the emotions are so vivid that hearing Shane Smith‘s breathing and the creaking of the seat, you have the sensation of having him in front of you.

The promise of eternal love through hardship and the deliberately dry arrangement reminded me of the recordings the late Johnny Cash made for American. The comparison is not blasphemous, trust me.

We’ve known Hummingbird for two years now, but placed after a ballad that so captured our soul and heart, it’s a flutter of wings that opens the clouds.

A wonderful song in which there is everything the group is today.

It’s the sound the band spent years building: the quintessential “Shane Smith and the Fu****g Saints” sound. Lashing guitars and solos of stunning beauty, magical violin, crazy voice, pulsating bass and hammering drums.

The text which is poetry, a bit like the flight of a “hummingbird“.

1,000 Wild Horses is a wild gallop towards the prairie, again with lyrics that are so vivid that we seem to see them before our eyes.

It may be Shane‘s vocal timbre, but really every word appears to us as if painted on our walls, while the rhythm envelops us, the violin and guitars intertwine, as if we were riding with the band.

Epicness is an integral part of their playing and It’s Been A While is like this: guitars, bass, drums and violin shake our soul, while Shane can’t wait to return home to Texas.

His voice is almost anguished, the pulsating rhythm increases this sensation and the experiences of long tours of more than 200 dates a year make it very autobiographical.

Everything & More is a small work of art of poetry in music.

An acoustic ballad that grows in intensity as the minutes pass, the love for the author is all here: “‘If the city burns to ashes and the trees turn to smoke, you’d be everything I need and more”.

The theme of difficulties that come and go, of the power of nature and of love that remains steadfast is a feeling that permeates this entire album: resistance and faith.

The album closes with Fire in The Ocean and there couldn’t have been a better ending.

A rock that burns like a fire that not even water can put out, a voice that gets under your skin and never lets go.

Epic, exciting and stunningly beautiful, between guitars, violin, solos and beating rhythm. The worthy ending to a perfect album.

The wait was not in vain friends, in fact it was useful: the experiences of these 5 years have allowed Shane Smith & The Saints to give us a masterpiece that like a storm wind will bring beauty and upheaval, emotions and tears into your souls.

I would like to shout to every music lover to jump at the opportunity to take this journey into the film that the guys from Austin, Texas decided to make and give to the world.

The voice that penetrates the soul, the guitars that whip the air, the furious magic of the violin, the beating heart of the bass and the hammer of the drum rhythm: these are the ingredients that will give you 52 minutes of beauty.

Beauty and upheaval.

And now I count the minutes that separate me from the legendary concert that I will see on May 7, 2024 in Morrison, Colorado, when surrounded by the impressive nature of Red Rocks, I will experience these emotions live as if I were in a film.

Happy listening,


Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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