Monday, October 25, 2021

Track by Track Review: Jeremy Shada’s ‘Vintage’

If you’re a fan of shows like Adventure Time and Voltron: Legendary Defender, or if you watched the show-stopping Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms, Jeremy Shada’s name might ring a bell. The award winning actor has already found his way onto our screens as beloved characters, but with the October 1 release of his solo album Vintage, Shada has found his way onto our favorite playlists as well.

Although the actor has always had a love of music, even acting as a member of the short-lived band Make Out Monday with his brother, it wasn’t until he boarded Julie and the Phantoms back in 2019 that making his own music seemed like an actual possibility. Starting with a sweet track dedicated to his wife and a 4-track EP, Mad Love, released last year, Shada dove right into writing and creating his own music. The result is his new 12-track album, Vintage, which has been on repeat here since it dropped. So read on for a track by track breakdown of the album.

“Back In Fashion”

Setting the tone for the whole album, “Back In Fashion” is flashback to music of the past, complete with a full band sound you don’t always get in a modern album. Combine that with musical moments that follow the lyrics through the decades, Shada’s songwriting chops definitely shine as he declares, “Let’s bring back the golden age, day one, let’s ring it in. Everything new is old baby. Vintage is the vibe again.” In fact, the whole song is a lament on the fact that so much modern music sounds the same, calling for a move back to “vintage” music — a move that is exactly what makes this song, and album, so great.

“Pretty Little Lies”

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For all that “Back In Fashion” called out modern bops, “Pretty Little Lies” definitely is a bop itself, but one with an infectious funky tempo that certainly sets itself apart. It is nothing less than a song that makes you want to get up and dance, but don’t miss the lyrics if you do. Shada’s smooth pop vocals bring life to a story of a picture-perfect relationship that is only perfect in pictures. However, don’t think this is a tragic track. For as much as it calls out the tragedy of toxic Instagram-style relationships, it is also a story about playing make believe — one that Shada fully embraced in the music video for this song, which you can watch above.

“Singing in the Rain”

Quite possibly the most melancholy track on the album, this piano-driven ballad is a beautiful tribute to relationships that don’t work out. Opening with a lighthearted piano tune, the lyrics run through the “could have beens” for a relationship before concluding that “Our story’s not like the classic movies. Doesn’t end with you holding me, or me getting down on one knee.” While not a typical breakup song, “Singing in the Rain” really explores the emotions of what it feels like to be the one left behind.

“If Looks Could Kill”

A song that Shada himself has joked could be on a Bond movie soundtrack, “If Looks Could Kill” plays with that classic noir style. Even more than keeping with the typical moody orchestral tone of these songs, the track really plays into the Bond theme lyrically as well as it explores what happens when a bad decision leads to regrets. With lines like “You leave little clues in a trail of blood, Baby your body is the smokin’ gun,” the story of a decision that went wrong is clear. However, if the song itself doesn’t give you all the Bond vibes, the music video, featuring Shada’s wife Carolynn, certainly does.

“This Ain’t It”

This throwback style is a definitely a modern pop song, but one that has a very groovy sort of 70s style bassline. While that may seem like a confusing combo, when combined with Shada’s lyrics, it definitely works to make this song one that will be stuck in your head. Especially if you can relate to the story of the toxic relationship the song tells.

“Dancing With Strangers”

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Taking a step back from societal expectations, “Dancing With Strangers” plays out as an anti-hookup culture anthem. With an 80s style reminiscent of Phil Collins and a killer guitar solo, Shada’s pop-rock tone really sets the scene for a danceable track that tells the story of someone who feels lost in the modern ‘dating’ scene. Despite the song being club ready, the lyrics describe someone who craves a more traditional romance, with the chorus claiming, “I don’t wanna be dancing with strangers at 3 a.m. I don’t wanna be wastin’ my love on somebody who doesn’t know who I am.” The song highlights the idea that you don’t need to do things that don’t make you happy to find love. You’d be better served by simply becoming the best version of yourself because, “My mama told me if you wanna find a good woman, then son you gotta be a good man.”

“Gentleman”

A pop song that wouldn’t be out of place in a club, “Gentleman” pushes aside traditional club song topics, instead calling back to “Back in Fashion” as it celebrates a return to a more classic style, but this time in relationships. Claiming that the girl “Could have any guy you want, But baby you only want a gentleman,” Shada explores the idea that perhaps a return to classic, gentlemanly manners in a relationship might actually be a good thing.

“Bewitched”

Another song that draws inspiration from a past era, this 50s crooner style track would fit right in on a Michael Bublé album. This style gives Shada’s vocals a real chance to shine. Lyrics like “They’re all modern, but baby you’re a vintage hit” really drive home the theme of the album and draw listeners into a world where being a classic, classy person is the pinnacle.

“Humphrey Bogart”

A low-key song that picks up in the chorus, “Humphrey Bogart” was fan favorite of this album’s four singles. And with a catchy tune and lyrics that celebrate the relationship that helps you bounce back after a bad breakup, it’s not hard to see why. Although younger fans might find themselves a bit confused regarding the title, since Bogart is definitely an icon from days gone by. However, it fits right in with the rest of the album. Plus, the song makes references to many Bogart movies and uses his famous Casablanca line, “Here’s looking at you kid,” in the chorus.

“This Feels Right”

A song that celebrates the feeling of a relationship that is better that everything you could have hoped for, “This Feels Right” is definitely a love song from Shada to his wife Carolynn. With lyrics that highlight all the ways the relationship feels right, the song is a upbeat, lighthearted track that will have you celebrating right along with him. Not only is the song itself adorable, but the music video features the Shadas running around Disney celebrating their relationship, and you just can’t help but to smile as you watch.

“Bored Together”

Have you ever been in a relationship that is so good that you can just sit together in silence and it’s totally comfortable? That is what this song celebrates. This fun, upbeat, danceable song shouts, “I wanna be bored with you!” as it celebrates the kind of healthy relationship that lets just being together be enough as, “Day to day is where life is lived and where real love is.” By this point in the album, Shada has fully moved on from the broken, toxic relationships of earlier songs, and seeing the story of the album reach this happy place is so satisfying.

“Talking to a Memory”

The only duet on the album, “Talking to a Memory” features upcoming Nashville based singer/songwriter Megan Nichole in a beautiful song about how you remember relationships. With a clearly Justin Timberlake-inspired melody, Shada’s smooth vocals and Nichole’s raspy tone complement each other as they weave a tragic story of being stuck with nothing but memories of a person to interact with. While certainly not the happy ending that the last two tracks seemed to be leading up to, this song is a perfect way to wrap up the album as it reflects on the best parts of a relationship.

Not only is this album is a complete journey, and one that many people can relate to, but for a first solo musical venture, Shada really knocked it out of the park. With a ton of variety in genre, and strong vocals throughout, you can’t miss with any track on the album. So go give it a listen and be sure to share your favorite tracks with us when you do.

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LeeAnn
LeeAnn is children's librarian who joined Nerds and Beyond in 2020 as a way to stretch her writing skills and connect with others who have the same pop culture passions as she does. She loves music, reading (obviously), and any TV show that can grab and hold her attention. Currently some of her favorite things to nerd out over include Supernatural, Prodigal Son, Louden Swain and Percy Jackson (books, theater, or upcoming show - lets leave the movies out of it).

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