From West Coast clubs, to Deep South joints, to European festivals, to YouTube, to the podcast universe, the Reverend Shawn Amos’ message of joyful blues is reaching an ever-increasing flock. The Rev’s distinctive blend of black roots music, R & B, and stripped down rock n’ roll brings a bracing, soul-deep musical experience to audiences starved for authenticity, for connection. “I derive a lot of satisfaction bringing people joy,” he says.
His third studio album, The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down, expands that mission. This time out, he spices up the mix with 21st century Freedom Songs, socially conscious soul, a stripped-down cover of Bowie’s “The Jean Genie” that slyly reveals the glam nugget’s blues bones, and an austere version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” that turns the post-punk gem into modern gospel. At the center of James Saez’ (Social Distortion, The Road Kings) no-frills production, the Rev’s voice and harp tie everything together in a stirring, celebratory whole, both beholden to history and refreshingly timely. “It’s the oddest birth of any album I’ve made,” the Rev says. “It has a particular depth.”
This sonic evolution is partly the result of over 100 dates in 2016-17, supporting his chart-topping The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You. On the road, the Rev took risks, listened to his heart, and honed his chops. In the midst of that came the seismic election of 2016, and the subsequent altering of the American landscape. All of the above significantly impacted the Rev as a father, citizen, musician, and African-American man, and all of it can be heard on The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down.