Pearl Jam co-founder Stone Gossard, folk singer Mason Jennings, soul innovator Brittany Davis, and iconic drummer Matt Chamberlain released Painted Shield back in January 2021. Before the last note had been recorded for their debut album work began on Painted Shield 2. Those who praised the eclectic aesthetic of the first album will not be disappointed in the second. Painted Shield 2 is a continuation of a collaboration that throws convention and formula out the window.
The formula for success stays the same, though. Mason Jennings provides the lyrics to accompany music crafted by Stone Gossard, Matt Chamberlain, or Brittany Davis. Yet, Painted Shield as a group are not content to reuse devices that worked on their first album. Yes, you will hear Chamberlain’s drums punching out the beat with synthesizers featured prominently along with Gossard’s guitar and Davis’ keyboards.
Davis and Jennings together on vocals is a unique example of two voices merging as one. A good example of this is on the song Alien, the video for which will be released on May 27. The timing of the video’s release coincides with the numerous recent sightings of unexplained aerial phenomenon (UAP), the current day equivalent of UFOs. The song starts out with synthetic sounds one might associate with a modern day flying saucer or other extraterrestrial vehicle.
The album, then, is a mix of the electronic and the organic — a moody rock album with each song having its own unique personality. If “Alien” is otherworldly, “‘Til God Turns the Lights On” burns with a funky fire.
“Dead Man’s Dream” is a straight-ahead rocker with syncopated guitar riffs and an explosive chorus. Painted Shield’s sense of movement can be soft and deliberate, too. “Life in Rewind” is a fever dream of a slow-simmering soul song while “White” is a leisurely paced folk tune laced with streaks of digital noise. Eclectic aesthetic indeed.
Painted Shield 2 is truly a collection of tunes that are greater than the sum of their parts. The songs come together so smoothly, so cohesively you would not know the artists were miles apart during the composition process. Their collaborative process on Painted Shield was born of pandemic forced isolation. The same process was used for the second album. As singer and lyricist Mason Jennings put it:
Matt or Stone would send over some musical ideas, and I’d listen to these musical beds and just see what wanted to grow there. It was a question of, “What’s going to fit?” It was all about listening, getting into a song’s specific state of mind, and trying to make each piece of music better, rather than creating something from scratch.
Stone Gossard remembers the process as being very fluid:
The music could’ve gone in any direction at any point. We flipped songs on their heads. We had Brit singing some of Mason’s songs. We had guitar riffs being played by synthesizers. We had Josh Evans serving as our producer, taking in a lot of information from four musicians and giving us a nice synthesis. There was this sense of shared ownership. We knew we were making something that belonged to all of us.
If you have heard the first album by Painted Shield you will be able to slip smoothly into listening mood for their second album. For those who are hearing Painted Shield for the first time, you may have to listen through a time or two before the songs grab you. But it will be worth it.