By Zoe K.
Not everyone can say they have gone on tour as a band, but most people can relate to the experience of traveling. It doesn’t matter if you’re just going a hundred miles down the road or thousands of miles overseas: the sensation of discovery and wonder coupled with a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) feeling of being an outsider is constantly present on some level. Austin, Texas band Shearwater try to capture this experience on their new album Fellow Travelers, which is a unique collection of cover songs originally written by bands that they have toured with over the span of their fourteen-year-long career. The album features songs by a diverse range of sources, from the eclectic and avant-garde band Xiu Xiu to mainstream rockers Coldplay.
Fellow Travelers successfully integrates the sound of each distinct song into a cohesive whole that is unmistakably Shearwater. Jonathan Meiburg’s emotive voice would not work on any given song, but thankfully he has chosen pieces that really benefit from his distinctive sound. The song “Cheerleader” by St. Vincent is not as sneeringly defiant as the original, but instead the line “I don’t want to be a cheerleader no more” comes across as more of a sincere realization of past mistakes. Xiu Xiu’s challenging song “I Luv the Valley OH!!” is redone in a way that makes it less abrasive and more accessible. One of the strongest tracks is Wye Oak’s “Mary Is Mary,” which sounds like a delicate anthem that could’ve easily been included on Shearwater’s 2012 album Animal Joy.