“You failed at life/You’ll get ‘em next time/There’s a second chance for every one.”
The opening lyrics for “One Flashing Light,” the first song on Take All Night, the long-awaited second record by Ojai’s Shades of Day, are reflective of those moments on the artist’s path when self-doubt threatens to derail hope. It’s an experience that’s familiar to anyone who ever pursued a dream — when, despite all evidence of impending doom, you forge ahead, clinging to every scrap of encouragement you ever received, every inspirational cliché you ever heard.
With nearly five years having passed since the band’s debut record, Mayday, this release may seem like the proverbial second chance, but Shades front man B. Willing James sees it as more of a beginning. “You always hear about overnight success after a decade of hard work,” he says. “Discouragement and perseverance for the love of the game — I feel this is our real coming-out party.”
Chosen by VCReporter as a band to watch in 2010 and recently voted one of the top three bands in Ventura County by readers, there’s no question Shades of Day’s star is on the rise. And if the reception it received at the Ventura Theater last month is any indication, fans are having no trouble embracing a more seasoned and mature version of the band that wowed us in its infancy with its straightforward, country blues rock.
The journey from there to here hasn’t been fraught with the rock star drama normally associated with a band’s early development. Rather, it’s been a time of personal growth and searching, especially for James as is evident lyrically throughout Take All Night. Progressing as a band is a costly and often disappointing endeavor, especially at a time when it’s ridiculously easy for people to cycle through new music. A few years ago when things began to slow down for Shades of Day, James moved briefly to Los Angeles and explored his options as a solo artist. He also fell in love. All of this life experience ultimately strengthened his confidence in his calling as a musician and his bond with the band — all of which has everything to do with what is clearly a more grown-up collection of songs.
“I think I’ve been loving the last couple years — the richness of life I didn’t feel in my early 20s. I had more raw energy and apprehension, but now I’m more comfortable in my own skin and able to present what I want better, and that goes for everyone,” he says. “Making this record taught us a lot about ourselves, and about how to make a really good record.”
Shades of Day will celebrate the release of Take All Night with an all-ages show on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Zoey’s Café in Ventura. The band will perform the new record in its entirety, and $15 admission will include a copy of the CD.
Take All Night
B. Willing James (acoustic guitars/vocals), Rick O Shay (drums), Camp O’Neill (electric guitars), Bruce Kimmell (electric guitars), Micah McCabe (bass and drums).
Available soon on vinyl.
From the bright lights of the big city and the boulevard of broken dreams to the kindness of strangers, the exhilaration of new love and the realities of business, Take All Night is a glimpse into the heart of the young musician trying to follow his bliss without sacrificing his soul. Musically lighter but thematically heavier than the first record, there is tremendous potential here for crossover into the pop and/or country markets.
One Flashing Light: Crisp and just pop enough for buoyancy, the perfect start to a record that builds with each listen.
Sexual Pretender: Fans will recognize this one from the band’s live repertoire. A tongue-in-cheek look at nightlife, lust and fast love. Upbeat and fun with interesting harmonies.
Love Parade: Currently in rotation on KJEE, 92.9, Santa Barbara. A sonically darker continuation of the previous track.
Everything to Everyone: Sweet, sweet love. Sigh. Sounds like good ’70s radio pop/rock.
Sidewalk Sun: The first “single” gets twangy with it. Fun, flirty and optimistic.
Hollow Man: The odd song out. A departure both lyrically and in the arrangement with a carnivalesque treatment. The artist’s journey takes a turn down darker streets.
Fear: Infectious tune that plays up the band’s talent for straight-up rock.
Business Side: “Can’t shake hands with the business side of a gun.” Super fun, clever country rock. Big crossover hit potential here.
Waiting for a Train: Powerful, evocative alt-country ode.
Life is Amazing: A country ballad for the ages wherein the artist finds peace along the way.