Shelter (1986) :: Lone Justice
Maria McKee’s voice has always struck me as a crossroads meet between musical genres, part old country, part soul songstress, part folk and part rock and roll. It is as if the angels and demons of these styles came together and birthed a daughter with amazing vocal pipes and singing style that would sizzle and steam and burn everywhere it went. The first time I spun my vinyl album of Lone Justice’s Shelter I felt like I was hearing both music that my Mother had loved, which I had grown up listening to, and music I myself was falling in love with as I was peering over the wall of almost adulthood. This was an album I loved singing-a-long to, and it was also an album of songs that played accompaniment to my first journals (hand-written), crafted stories and poetry.
This was an album full of songs I wanted to fall in love to, or at least fall in lust to; an album of raw sensuality and emotional heartbreak. This was music that was not only heard, but felt.
This week’s My Favorite Album is Lone Justice’s Shelter, and I will share my three-sentence song-by-song reactions on why it is on the list. I hope you give the songs a listen, and consider adding it to your album collection.
I Found Love
Exuberant and explosive, and damn soulful, this song reminded me immediately of Aretha Franklin’s Respect and Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man. I grew up singing in the church, and parochial school, choirs and this definitely has an underpinning of gospel in it, but turned up to hot heat high. You can hear Steven Van Zandt’s writing in this (song is co-written with Maria and Steven) as there is a bit of a Springsteen feel here, at least in the back beats and rhythm switches.
This is one of those songs that immediately brings back images and memories from a time in my life, so vivid that I can remember what I was wearing, who I was with, what the air smelled like, and what the sun felt like beaming down on my skin. It was late Spring, mid-day, walking around Venice Beach, popping in and out of shops. We bought records and jewelry from a street vendor, and a crocheted hat I would wear for years and years after, always remembering that day when I would slip it on.
Reflected (On My Side)
Another song that has shades of gospel and soul, and was one that I would often turn up high and sing-a-long loudly to. This song reminds me of 10,000 Maniacs album In My Tribe, both lyrically and in chorus/melody structure. This was always one of those songs that felt both empowering and cathartic after singing to.
No video available – here on Spotify.
Such a sexy start to a song, immediately sultry, reminding me of Joe Cocker’s You Can Leave Your Hat On. It transitions from there to something softer, almost love song soft with a side of want and need. I feel like it sways back-and-forth like a love and lust pendulum.
My favorite song on the album is this heartbreakingly beautiful song about love and loss. This song reminds me of my first real love, and the subsequent first real heartbreak that resulted. It calls to those feelings of loneliness and missing desperation that accompanies the pain of a rough break-up. This song can still make me cry.
Listening to this song today reminds me of early Throwing Muses, though I would not hear their music until years later; it has that early 90’s feel to it. It also has a Springsteen feel to it, another part-penned by Van Zandt, with Maria and Shane Fontayne. This is a song that always makes me want to spin around in one of my 90’s flowey, crushed velvet dresses I used to wear.
Dreams Come True (Stand Up and Take It)
This one reminds me of Pat Benatar. It is has an edgy, rock-and-roll sensibility to it that throws a punch. This also has a cinematic feel to it, I can close my eyes and picture it accompanying movies with an edge like True Romance or Kalifornia.
Soulful and beautiful, this has a empowering feel to it. The song seems to soar higher and higher as it builds. This song reminds me a lot of Carly Simon’s Let the River Run, featured in the film Working Girl.
No video available – here on Spotify.
Another song that reminds me of Aretha Franklin, especially of some of the music she released in the 80’s (Knew You Were Waiting, Aretha’s duet with George Michael, comes immediately to mind). This was one of my favorite songs to drive to, to turn up high to, and to dance around to (see earlier comment about spinning in circles in crushed velvet dress comment). Again, I hear early Throwing Muses in this song, which has me thinking that Lone Justice and Maria were inspirations (like the song title/pun intended) to Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly.
Dixie Storms has a lullaby feel to this song, which I used to sing to my baby daughter years later to soothe her to sleep. This reminds me of a book I read once, Cavedweller (by Dorothy Allison), both in the feel of the song, and from a lyrical perspective. I also think I listened to this album quite a bit while I was reading it.