Shawn Rieke Has Something to Say
Even though his musical career is only just beginning, Shawn Rieke performs with authority. He may only have three tracks available on his Soundcloud page, but two of those have been released in the past two months, which suggests some possible momentum from the Chicago singer-songwriter. Armed with just his voice and acoustic guitar on the recent songs, Rieke’s music is expressive and punchy, drawing clear inspiration from blues and other related styles even as he forges his own signature sound.
With “Grapevine,” Rieke makes overt use of blues techniques with repeated guitar lines, big scooped notes, and animated vocal delivery. He also uses a classic blues turnaround in the song, although in unexpected places, keeping us on our toes. Although his lyrics are somewhat vague, it seems as though the song is about the lies we often tell each other in life. The track ends somewhat abruptly with the line, “Make sure you speak real low so the sound don’t reach my ears,” and then a previously unused chord voicing in the guitar.
Rieke’s most recent release is “Speck of Your Time,” which is a more pop-flavored song about pining over someone who is unattainable. The song’s chords are fairly standard here but he keeps things original with frequent stops for certain vocal lines. Rieke plays a dejected romantic on the track, who perhaps took a chance on someone and failed, leaving him with no choice but to drink his pain away. In a repeating line he writes, “Couldn’t get a speck of your time, I didn’t know / sipping ‘til my glass is dry, my mind is cold.”
Even though Rieke’s songwriting skills may still be in development, he plays with heart, and these two songs seem to be just a taste of what’s to come in the future. He has traits that can’t be taught in his expression and inspiration for his art, and it will be interesting to hear his work continue to grow and perhaps be played with a fuller instrumentation. Between that prospect and his continued musical growth, there is a lot to look forward to from Shawn Rieke.