Shannon and the Clams – Gone by the Dawn (Hardly Art)

Shannon and the Clams – Gone by the Dawn (Hardly Art)

017ad75b-9c25-4467-9071-d9c920881152If the veteran underground film director John Waters were to revisit Cry Baby and Hairspray he would need to look no further than Gone by the Dawn to provide him with a soundtrack that could easily straddle both movies.

The fourth album by the Oakland, California trio Shannon and the Clams shares many of both films’ central characteristics. Its musical feet are planted firmly in a smalltown America of the ‘50s and ‘60s. It plunders the archives of surf rock, doo wop, rockabilly and good old fashioned rock’n’roll for its primary musical thrust. And it deals in the currencies of nostalgia and kitsch whilst exploring the hidden heartache and bitter regret of relationships gone bad.

Like much of Waters’ earlier work, Gone for the Dawn also has a slightly sinister, distorted underbelly yet it never veers into the grotesque and for all that the record clearly draws heavily and most unselfconsciously from the past it has enough savvy and chutzpah about it to easily transcend the period.

There may well be shades of The Ventures and The Safaris on opening track ‘I Will Miss The Jasmine’ and you can undoubtedly hear traces of Dion and Roy Orbison’s ‘Running Scared’ on the classic heartbreaker ‘How Long?’. And there may well be the very essence of many ‘60s girl groups on the record’s title track as it tip-toes precariously between love and hate. But Gone from the Dawn manages to stand sufficiently far away from its influences to not only keep a respectful distance from them but also to create for itself proper perspective.

And in bassist and singer Shannon Shaw they have got themselves a true star. Sounding like a more decadent Debbie Harry on the sleazy, suggestive ‘Corvette’, Shaw finally breaks free from the kisses, crushes and innocence of the typically adolescent themes of many a traditional ‘50s song as she and the Clams moves towards something that is infinitely darker and far more interesting.

Gone by the Dawn by Shannon and the Clams was released on 11th September 2015 through Hardly Art Records

Rating: ★★★★☆

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