Music

Alec Shaw Bares His Soul in a Live Rendition of "Fools Gold" (premiere)

Photo: Zan Fiskum / Photo courtesy of Tiny Human

Indie pop singer-songwriter Alec Shaw brings gospel flavoring to a new live rendition of "Fools Gold", a song about observing the grey areas in religion.

Alec Shaw's latest album, Thinking Place, was released to a warm reception earlier this year. The Seattle singer-songwriter has made a name for himself with his soulful cuts, producing accessible pop music with a moving and emotive base. It's the culmination of all of Shaw's varying influences and experiences. He began playing guitar and piano in fourth grade. He continually honed his precocious musicality through church and in bands with friends. Shaw carved out a career in songwriting after bringing together a band via Craigslist. Shaw's latest resonates with the serenity of self-clarity and enlightenment, hopeful even in reflecting on moments of uncertainty. "Fools Gold" remains a highlight on the album for encapsulating this feeling.

Reflecting on "Fools Gold", Shaw tells PopMatters, "'Fool's Gold' is about a time for me when I was very confused with the whole narrative of religion growing up in contrary to what I began experiencing in the world around me. It's about making everything grey so I could sort out what I believed in. Which isn't easy for me and causes lots of anxiety, but it's also realizing the necessity of figuring out those burning questions and finding peace of mind."

His new live rendition of the song features passionate vocals from the Shades Fellowship Singers. Regarding the performance, Shaw says, "The idea to make this video came to me right after the sessions recording Thinking Place. I knew I needed to get a video made to share along with the album, but I don't ever watch music videos personally. I like watching performances and live concerts online. I can watch for hours, so naturally, that's what I wanted to create since that experience has always inspired me.

"'Fool's Gold' is a song featured on the album that has evolved over the last couple of years. It developed more of a gospel vibe with producer Andy Park's input and some group vocals we added. I liked the song heading in a more dramatic direction and wanted to take it over the top for a live video, hopefully retaining the intimate performance atmosphere as well. It's a song that seems to connect with the widest variety of people out of all my songs. I think it will connect even more if we are actually performing what you see in the video and possibly relating to the expression. I also wanted the music to be simple and leave room for the voices. It took about a month to plan with the help of some friends.

"My friend Courtney Jones connected me with her former choir director Antwoine Palmer, an award-winning gospel choir director in Renton, Washington where I live, who jumped on the idea when I shared the song and added some of his ideas. He also had some great wisdom to share about being strong and believing in yourself as an artist, and that energy made its way right into our performance."

"My friend Daniel Bender did the video, and my brother Hunter Shaw did the recording with some mics we rented. The musicians were drummer JP Talley and former Fleet Foxes bassist Craig Curran. Even though it may not look like it, it was a DIY thing. A friend at the church I've played guitar at for 11 years, let us use their stage to set up our session. Very grateful for all these people, and how well the project tuned out with everyone lending a hand."

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