Review #162: Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow

Artist – Shearwater
Album – Jet Plane and Oxbow (2016)

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Shearwater are an indie rock band from Texas, USA. The band is lead by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Jonathan Meiburg and was formed in 1999. Shearwater came about with ‘Okkervil River’ band mates Meiburg and Will Sheff wanting to create quieter/calmer music. The groups music has become known for its connection with nature, whether it be the imagery they use or titles/lyrics, the name ‘Shearwater’ actually being that of a group of seabirds. Shearwater currently have a massive 12 albums out, one album every year they’ve been together, and now they release the 13th effort ‘Jet Plane and Oxbow’.

‘Jet Plane and Oxbow’ is a largely diverse album, moulding ambient synths/recordings with typical indie rock instrumentation and a vocal delivery that ranges from folk to rock to a kind of Morrissey style. As band leader Meiburg mentioned in interviews before the release of this album, there is a political message flowing through each song. This through topic influences the listener to study the lyrics and understand Meiburg’s view on current American politics, especially in his home state of Texas. This message is delivered in a powerful but grounded way, the words delivered with passion throughout and the composition of the standard band setup and extra keys/percussion intertwining beautifully in regards to melody/harmony. The songs on this latest release somehow have the ability to sound personal, whilst also totally relatable to the mainstream at the same time, songs which could easily be performed to thousands at an arena, with each audience member feeling specific songs were written just for them. If I were to pick a couple stand out tracks I would have to choose ‘Pale Kings’ and ‘prime’, both expertly written songs.

‘Jet Plane and Oxbow’ is a fantastically performed album, putting forth a strong relatable message in a beautifully composed envelope. If this band don’t progress higher and higher in the mainstream visibility then i’ll be shocked.


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