“Most of the songs off my first solo record are inspired by a seven-and-a-half month trip to Central and South America,” says Encinitas-based singer/songwriter Tolan Shaw, frontman for 2009 SDMA Best New Artist winners the New Archaic. Having won Best Songwriter at the 2011 San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, Shaw became somewhat of a world traveler by working with Semester at Sea, which took him through South Africa, India, China, and Japan, ultimately visiting around a dozen countries and over 70 cities. He followed that up by touring Latin America with his fiancé Sarah, teaching English classes by day, while writing material for his self-titled solo album at night.
The 24-year-old says the lyrics on his CD were “inspired by that life-changing journey...represents where I’m at in life — unsure which direction to take but focused on staying in the moment and letting things be as they will. The instrumentation and songwriting is inspired by ’60s and ’70s R&B and soul. My friend and ex-bandmate from the New Archaic, Joe Harrison, helped arrange the horn parts, and the horn section from his local Afrobeat group, In Motion Collective, played on the tracks.”
The album cover features a performance pic shot at Lestat’s. “I’m using the gramophone as a logo and branding shtick for a few reasons. I came across three old gramophones at a rummage sale that I use onstage as a cool visual. They’re old-school looking and kinda match the inspiration and vibe of the music. Plus, since the instrumentation includes a four-piece horn section, the horn of the gramophone is a good representation of that.”
Shaw has booked two release parties for the CD, with the first taking place June 27 at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. “This one will be a big production with a full band, including a horn section and gospel backing singers Voices of Prayze, who have sung with Jason Mraz and James Morrison.”
An all-ages edition happens in Normal Heights on July 12 at Lestat’s. “That’s my home turf. The show will be a mix of solo acoustic and electric band music.” And lest anyone feel ripped off after the more elaborate Solana Beach shindig, “The gospel singers will be included.”