Sean Shiff – “Ten Below” Feat. JoyAnn Parker
Sean Shiff – “Ten Below” Feat. JoyAnn Parker – Single Review
I’ve always felt like a lot of the whole life experience is completely relative. Like, for example…whatever your maximum level of stress is, from whatever causes it, would be the same as my own maximum, no matter what it is that might cause my own…make sense? The same would go for things like happiness, pain thresholds, excitement, etc. etc. – there are tons of ways we can all understand and relate to each other based on this principal concept that we come at life from what we personally experience, and that whatever we’re experiencing, specifically measurable or not, is still essentially the same. So like, when I get a message from Sean saying that it was indeed “Ten Below” in Minnesota when this song was written, I suffer the comment with a smile & try to forget the nightmares of regular days in minus forty back in Ottawa where I just spent the past six years. Cold is cold. Hot is hot. Everything is relative, and “That’s Just Fine.”
As with all things in the music of Sean Shiff, there’s always something to like or love about what he’s got goin’ on. When it comes to “Ten Below,” I think he’s got a great, gentle, Ed Sheeran-meets-Van Morrison type of tune at the core of it all…and if you’re not following too closely, you can slip right into the beauty of that without having to recognize it’s still basically a holiday tune of sorts. It’s an anti-holiday tune more or less, but that still brings the subject to the surface, which basically makes it a holiday tune, doesn’t it? Everything is relative. Anyhow. I join Sean in feeling like he’d wanna run away to wherever the sun is during the Christmas season…at least for the most part. I’m very much one of those people that’s gotta be right in that sweet spot. Too hot and I get bitchy, too cold and I’m miserable…and too much of either is bound to be too much altogether…temperature is all about balance y’all, and that’s had to establish no matter where you might be. But I do like and appreciate where he’s coming from…Sean’s obviously pining for a bit more warmth when it’s “Ten Below” over there in Minnesota, and lines like “So, if you see me on some beach singing Feliz Navidad, come join me for a drink” resonate vividly and conjure up visuals that make ya chuckle sweetly as that moment seems wonderfully out of place and out of sync. I would join him for that drink, or anyone singing “Feliz Navidad” in the midst of a beautiful sunny day for that matter…truth be told, while I have basically no use for holiday tunes personally, I’ve always loved that one for some reason. Lyrically, Shiff’s got his impressive imagery as on point as ever, that’s the positive…you can always close your eyes and basically see what he’s written about for the most-part and that’s one of my favorite parts of listening to the music he’s been creating in the Sean Shiff Project. It’s usually a little noticeable as a songwriter’s material as most tunes can be when written by someone and performed by another…you get that poetic aspect that always becomes apparent, and words that don’t always reflect what someone’s really feeling as opposed to words that fit the rhyme-scheme or suit the writing. None of which is necessarily bad mind you, just noticeable. You get verses like the opening one to “Ten Below” that is both saying something and nothing at the same time…like I love the first two lines of “I ain’t coming down your chimney, but I ain’t no Grinch” and couldn’t reconcile those with “you can try to put your finger on it, but it ain’t no cinch” other than that the latter half rhymed with the first part. Phonetically it works…and it sounds undeniably pleasant…so there’s that, which is all good…it’s just my job to challenge songwriters to make every word count. I’m not even saying that they don’t at the end of the day…chances are they mean something to Sean and that’s every bit as much of a great reason to have written them as any other – but when it comes to the masses listening…objectivity reveals truths. A rabbit-hole to go down is one thing and a simple rhyme is another entirely…you decide which is which.
Other than that though, I’m not seeing or hearing much that anyone would remotely complain about; the words are perfectly cohesive to all ears from that second verse on-forward, and would make sense to anyone listening. Again, Sean’s use of imagery is always a huge positive overall…you feel like you’re right there in the cold all over again when you’re listening to “Ten Below” and dreaming about the sun along with him. The music is seamless and gorgeous to listen to, and singer JoyAnn Parker is straight-up wonderful…she’s a perfect fit with her sweet & soulful sound, with that natural hippie honey in her vocals like you find in the melodies of someone like Chris Robinson, or again, in Van Morrison’s tunes. The piano stands out as an essential contribution, the guitars are stellar, the rhythm section is on-point – it all sounds great to be honest, but it’s definitely tough to outshine the warmth that JoyAnn brings to this tune through her performance. “Ten Below” is a fine example of an inoffensive and pleasant tune that I can’t imagine anyone reaching over to turn off…real easy to listen to, and truly comforting as well.
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