Brand New Shoes
Ryan Shupe and his happily quirky band return with more of their sunny acoustic-based music, nestled somewhere between newgrass and hipster folk music. The band’s wit is as sharp as its musical skills throughout this set. Unfortunately, sometimes their eccentric lyrics overshadow the group’s melodic strengths. School-days stories provide the fodder for several of the tracks on the album. “Brand New Shoes” chronicles a teen hellbent on impressing his high school crush with his new footwear. The rock-flavored tune features a Justin Timberlake-like falsetto and a harmony-soaked breakdown. The free-spirited “He Knows Karate” is a comedic tale of a fellow who gets beat up after pursuing a macho guy’s girlfriend. The strongest tracks here are profound tunes like “Keep Believing” (a follow-up to the band’s 2005 Top 30 hit, “Dream Big”) and the musical prayer “How Could I.” The band can boast superb musicianship and flawlessly executed vocals, though for contrast’s sake they could benefit from a few more somber tracks.