Austin, Texas native Alejandro Rose-Garcia—dubbed Shakey Graves by his friends around the campfire—extends beyond his Bandcamp digital bestselling, angst-filled debut album Roll the Bones in his new record, And the War Came.
“The first album was me wanting to burn my life down, cut my hair off, and run screaming into the woods. This album is the trials and tribulations of becoming domesticated, letting people into your world, and letting go of selfishness – the story of becoming a pair, losing that, and reconciling the loss and gain of love,” says Rose-Garcia.
In addition to the matured themes within the new album, there is also an expansion of musical complexity, starting with the recording process. Roll the Bones introduced Shakey Graves’ mesmerizing voice—ranging from raspy to smooth as silk—accompanied by himself on the guitar and makeshift kick drum made from an old suitcase.
And the War Came grows beyond Shakey Graves’ charming introduction, illustrating his development as an artist while establishing his place in the musical world.
“This time, I was making something people were going to listen to out of the gate. I tried to maintain everything I enjoy about recording, the weird homemade aspect, but I was seeking a new, shining sound quality. The concepts for the songs are a little bigger.”
Although at the core of the home recording of his latest album is Shakey Graves and his guitar, other instrumentalists were added to enhance the sound and create the musical complexity depicted within And the War Came.
Shakey Graves also collaborated with another singer/songwriter, Esme Patterson, on three songs on the album. Patterson—member of the Denver-based band, Paper Bird—contributes to Shakey Graves’ sound with hauntingly beautiful harmonization and lyrical work.
“We started out just having fun and writing, and then that turned into some of my favourite songs on the album,” says Shakey Graves.
“We actually wrote ‘Dearly Departed’ on Halloween as a tongue-in-cheek, haunted house sex joke, and then we played it that night and people went bonkers. Esme and I write so similarly it kind of freaked us out, and I really learned the power of writing music with someone you get along with.”
Their compatibility is clearly illustrated through the interwoven harmonies of the songs Patterson contributed to, and is crucial in the development of the underlying theme of the album: the idea of the other.
“It’s not about any single person; it’s about being that second, other person. Even the title – I never thought about whether I was able to handle that aspect of things, of having these relationships. And the War Came is a little bit of ‘be careful what you wish for.’”
Shakey Graves plays at the Park Theatre in two sold out shows Nov. 24 and 25. His album, And the War Came, is available now.