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Like Robin Thicke? Don’t Miss Remy Shand’s 2002 Gem The Way I Feel

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Blue-eyed soulster Robin Thicke is currently riding high on the success of his latest album, Something Else. A fun trip through 70s soul, his recent release has solidified his status as an artist who deftly straddles current and retro R&B, adding just a touch of disco.

Before Robin Thicke, however, there was Remy Shand.

Around the same time as Thicke's modest debut, A Beautiful World, Shand entered the music scene with The Way I Feel, a superb collection of blue-eyed soul that paid homage to 70s soul while grounding the lyrics in modernity. Released, appropriately enough, on Motown Records, the album caused a small stir in R&B circles with its authenticity and catchy melodies. As a result, Shand received airplay on BET and many R&B radio stations, and eventually racked up Juno awards (Canada's equivalent of the Grammys) and Grammy nominations. He then promptly vanished from the music scene.

Remy Shand 

Shand's apparent disappearance has disappointed fans, as his well-crafted debut showed great artistic promise. Born in Winnipeg, his parents home schooled him, and ended up passing on their love of soul music to their son. According to his Motown artist site, after earning his GED Shand played in local experimental rock bands, but his love of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, and the Isley Brothers never died. At 19 years old he began composing songs, then started recording and mixing from home. Overall he played every instrument, sang all vocals, and wrote every song that would eventually comprise The Way I Feel. After four years of writing and recording, Shand's album made its way to Motown, who released the project in 2002.

 

Listening to The Way I Feel resembles taking a journey through soul's rich past; “Take A Message,” the first single, features Shand singing in falsetto over a lazy, funky beat. The title track speeds up the tempo slightly, with Shand playing the role of the tender lover: “I know what it takes to make it right for you,” he croons, taking a page out of the Teddy Pendergrass songbook. A shuffling beat punctuated by strong bass and a “wah wah” pedal, “Liberate” provides irresistible funk, as does my favorite track, “The Second One,” with its scratchy rhythm guitar driving the beat. He also pays tribute to the great “slow jam” tradition with tracks such as “I Met Your Mercy” and “The Colour of the Day.”

However, Shand avoids simply parroting R&B legends. “The Mind's Eye,” for example, uses unusual images for seduction:

Settle down, talkin' love,
Talkin' beauty of it all
I could pleet , I could make heads meet
Leave your value, Leave your virtue
Seize the makin' of some new company

If those words seem unusual for romancing a partner, “Burning Bridges” assumes a different perspective on breaking up. Describing why he is ending the relationship, Shand's narrator displays comfortable resignation: “Woman, feeling good about the choice I made/In so deep there ain't no judgment day/If there was I think I'd be okay.” Reasons for the breakup are unclear, as Shand uses abstractions to explain the couple's differences: “For when you wanna turn the day in/And I just wanna turn the day around,” he sings.

Remy ShandTrack for track, The Way I Feel represents Shand's true love for soul, and this passionate album addresses love and loss with originality. However, the story has a strange coda; in 2003 he announced via his official site that he was hard at work on his next album. Shortly after that, he vanished from the internet as well as the music world. The official site was removed, his MySpace page discontinued; a Google search revealed many fans asking “what ever happened to Remy Shand?” but no answers. His Motown artist page remains, and some of his videos are available through YouTube, but otherwise he seemingly fell off the face of the earth.

Now that Robin Thicke has experienced success with his neosoul sound, it's time for Shand to reemerge. His sound could appeal to a vast, multicultural audience; pairing him with the right producer could make a great difference. Thicke took that approach with his second album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke, and watched his career skyrocket. It would be a great shame that such a promising talent may have only one album to his credit. Until Shand decides to reappear with new material, do not pass by The Way I Feel, a stellar example of the neosoul movement.

To listen to sample tracks, visit his Motown site. While the selection of Remy Shand videos on YouTube is thin, clips do exist for “Take A Message,” “The Way I Feel,” and “Rocksteady.”

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About Kit O'Toole

  • Flipside

    Another great record to come out around the same time was “The State of Blue Eyed Soul” by Philip Clark. And don’t forget guys like Jon B and Tomi, too.

  • http://www.kotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    Thanks for the tips, Flipside–I’ll check out Philip Clark’s album. I like some of Jon B.’s stuff, but I’m not familiar with Tomi. Thanks for commenting and the suggestions.

  • cruddy

    I am in love with Remy!! Wish he would return as well; however, can the auther please explain to me why he needed to bash or add another artist name in order to prove his point.I love Robin Thicke as well.I believe that they can coexist.They did this same nonsence with Robin and Jon B and look what happened.Hmmmm…

  • cruddy

    Apologize for the misprint.. i mean she

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    Cruddy, thanks for commenting! I’m not sure where you got impression that I was “bashing” Robin Thicke.I’ve liked him since he came out with “When I Get You Alone”–clever use of sampling and a great track overall. I just think it’s a shame that Remy Shand hasn’t experienced the same kind of popularity, since he’s talented in different ways.Let’s hope he can get his act together soon; he’s due for a comeback.

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    Sorry if the formatting on my above comment looks a bit strange. I’m sending this from my phone.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    It looks fine, Kit.

  • cruddy

    Sorry I guess it was the “However, Shand avoids simply parroting R&B legends.” So many other sites talk about how Robin is not talented, he just parodies others.
    However,I did see some concert footage of Remy doing a show for French tv in 2007, so let’s hope he will be back soon as well. I am simply killing his cd. However, I am disappointed with Jon’s latest.Kitt, Have you checked out Arther Lewis?? He is an awesome talent as well.