Sometimes, bigger is just better. After the release of his 2004 effort, Sweet Soul Suicide, Washington, D.C.-based singer-songwriter Shane Hines did the prototypical “big push.” He formalized a full band, hit the road, wrote new material, and teamed up with producer Kevin Rucker. The result is a nearly-flawless rock production entitled Zoë. One part Sting, one part Buddy Guy, a dash of Dashboard Confessional and Stroke 9, Hines belts out smooth melodies that are boxed, gift wrapped and tied up with a neat little bow– perfectly packaged for a true music aficionado.
Hines and his rock-solid band, The Trance, have achieved that delicate musical balance between edgy uniqueness and comfortably familiar. The foursome delivers rich, tightly constructed songs with clever change-ups and Hines’ full-bodied songwriting and pitch-perfect voice at the chocolaty center – a distinctive blend of blues and modern rock. High points include the humming electric numbers “Joy Said” and “Begin Again,” but the acoustic-electric meld on “A Little Light,” a number punctuated by creative percussion and a crisp vocal chorus, also deserves kudos.
There’s a tendency among singer-songwriters to try to go “too big” with the full-band effect, falling prey to overproduction and the “wall of sound” philosophy. Rucker, Hines and the band should be praised for knowing when to hold back and when to go full tilt. This is indie production as good, if not better than, big time label work.
Yup, watch out for this one, folks. Shane Hines and the Trance and their girl Zoë are coming your way and they’ve got a big red bow tied around ‘em. Good things come in big packages, too, ya know.