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Now Hear This: Campfire Party - Justin Shapiro

Rating: ****

Washington DC native, Justin Shapiro has been kicking around his local scene for 10+ years now. Playing in cover bands, writing originals, and putting all together to eventually record an album of his own.

In 2009 he met Rich Cairns and together they formed the band Green River Junction and that project made music together for several years before Cairns bounced to North Carolina and the band ended shortly thereafter.

2018 is here and so is Shapiro's debut solo offering entitled "Campfire Party" which figures to be a mix of new and old ranging from a myriad of influences ranging from Pearl Jam to Paul Simon.

So is it any good? I'll be the judge, jury, and executioner. Just kidding about the executioner part...or am I?

Listen to "Brighter Days" on Soundcloud here:

"Lost in Time" starts us off with a nice acoustic groove. The vocals come in and I'm immediately thinking about They Might Be Giants. This is a good tune, that doesn't take itself too seriously. Solid starter. Track two is "Mr. Bluebird" and the TMBG influence remains true. Maybe even more so than the first track. Shapiro definitely has a vibe. "Tyrannosaurus Rex" is a hilarious track about weed and dinosaurs. "Brighter Days" is next and it's a slower and more serious track. I like this sound for him. He's showing some versatility here. "Inspiration Nation" has a garage rock sound and is probably the heaviest track on the whole album. "Forgive & Forgotten" is a blues-ey number that shows yet another side of Shapiro. One that I can see in a smoky nightclub as opposed to the cafe sound of the first few songs. "My Own Way" and "If You Wanna Wake Up!" are both solid if unspectacular tunes that continue building on the sound that Shapiro has developed. "Human Hurricane" starts with a rad bassline and gives us the trademark humorous and clever lyrical content that I've grown to appreciate about this album. "Stand" is a pretty guitar-driven track about growing up and the relationship between a father and his parents. Really nice arrangement here. The LP ends on the title track "Campfire Party" and it's a slower number. This one brings a little country energy to it. It's a nice way for the album to end. Makes me wanna cook some smores.

This album took awhile to come about but it was worth the wait. Justin Shapiro has such a likable quality and it really comes through his music. If you're into TMBG, Dave Matthews Band, or Bob Dylan, you're gonna find this very appealing. Strongly recommended.

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