Turnip-haired homeboy Shawn Snyder made quite a splash with last year's sophomore set, Romantic's Requiem, an album that earned it New Times' kudos for being among the best local releases of 2008. For its follow-up, Snyder strips things down, offering up a lo-fi acoustic set that not only finds him in his element but remarkably, even bolder than before. His studio effort boasted tumultuous tales of love and loss, tempered by a journeyman attitude and a restless spirit that kept him on the road nonstop for months at a time. Consequently, it's a relief to find Snyder alighting long enough to record this performance at Davie's Chocolate Moose Cafe, giving ample opportunity to effectively emote and embrace his sinewy, soulful motif. Opener "Dirge" finds him in accapella mode, a rather startling attempt that seizes attention immediately at the outset, From that point on, Snyder provides a dark and tangled mix of angst-intensive narratives, soulful ruminations and gruff confessional ballads that retrace the best entries from his studio recordings.
Snyder's sinewy style clearly finds his crowd captivated, and Stripmall
Troubadour effectively retains the live ambiance of an audience bootleg
with bits of offhanded chatter thrown in for good measure. At one
point, Snyder bemoans the evolution of his surroundings, noting that
the wedding chapel that once existed next door has now become a donut
shop. The drive-through offers both Boston cream pie and a prenuptial
agreement he notes sarcastically. Clearly, levity isn't exactly
Snyder's forte, and by the time he reaches the final two selections,
the cool jazz and jive of "Plot Twist II" and the lovely turned-down
gaze of "Festus," he and his compatriots - guitarist/keyboard player
George Zhen and percussionist Tom Gress - are at their best.
A worthy memento, Stripmall Troubadour serves as a stopgap measure in
anticipation of Snyder's next studio offering. No doubt it will appease
his fans and perhaps even entice new devotees, at least until they have
reason to shop around for more.
Shawn Snyder performs at a pair of CD release parties: Friday,
October 9 from 8 - 10 p.m. at Kitchen 305, located at the Newport
Beachside Hotel and Resort, 16701 Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles Beach. Free
admission. Call 305-749-2110.
On Saturday, October 10, Snyder performs at 7:30 p.m. at Labyrinth Café,
located at Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale, 3970 N.W.
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21st Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, as part of Songwriters in the Round with
Raffa and Rainer and Shauna Sweeney. Tickets cost $15 at the door, $12
in advance (plus a contribution of a non-perishable food item). Call