Joan Shelley :: Rivers and Vessels


Though she’s justly hailed for her own empathic and deep-toned original songs, Joan Shelley brings an undeniable grace to the songs of others. Following her Lagniappe Session, which found the Kentucky songwriter interpreting material by Frank Sinatra and Leonard Cohen, and her magical Nick Drake cover for Mojo Magazine, Shelley’s released a new EP, Rivers and Vessels, featuring songs by JJ Cale, Dolly Parton, Connie Converse, and more. Recorded in February 2018 at La La Land studios in Louisville, the new collection is homespun and immediate, giving the sense that the singer/guitarist and her collaborators — including Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Nathan Salsburg, Daniel Martin Moore, Julia Purcell, and Doug Paisley — were simply dashing these songs off for the pleasure of each other’s musical company. Shelley brings a sense of mystery to Converse’s “How Sad, How Lovely” befitting Connie’s story; approaching Cale’s lovelorn “Magnolia,” Shelley uncovers a hidden sprightliness. Any Shelley recording is reason enough to take note, but Rivers and Vessels packs extra incentive: 100% of Bandcamp sales will benefit the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, and sales of a limited print set by artist Lettie Jane Rennekamp and Patrick Masterson Letterpress with benefit KWA as well. words/j woodbury

Further reading: Joan Shelley :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview