With Soul of My Soul, folk singer Michelle Shocked uncorks ten songs of passion, love, and anger. The album finds Shocked coming to terms with the “strong currents” in her life, but it also serves as a bridge to her next project with artist and “the Official Love” of her life David Willardson. The collaboration, entitled Indelible Women, will feature performance portraits in song and on canvas of some of the most iconic women of all time.
Shocked, an indelible woman in her own right, has dubbed herself as “the most sophisticated hillbilly you’ll ever meet.” Erudite, confident, and bright, this is certainly an accurate description for Shocked as an artist, as an activist, and as a woman.
Shocked, born “in or at least near the backwoods of East Texas,” has always stood against the establishment with her sense of honesty and her natural passion. Her lyrics, ruthlessly sincere, come to life with her unassuming, organic vocals.
Infused with a blend of folk, rock, and soul, Soul of My Soul is a revelatory piece of work and a nice entrance point to those unfamiliar with Shocked’s oeuvre thus far. While her social critiques are in full swing, there is also a softer side to the singer revealed in the record’s many love songs.
“I think the meditation these past several years, ever since I stopped drinking, really, has been to jettison rage without losing the ability to feel strong feelings,” Shocked says.
Strong feelings do indeed abound on Soul of My Soul, starting with the buoyant “Love’s Song." Over hard-edged guitar, Shocked sings about how love songs were never in her “key” before admitting to a change of heart. “Now somehow I know Love's song is singing me,” she concludes.
“True Story,” another cut about her love for Willardson, is a warm acoustic ballad sung directly to the subject over the telephone. It’s a beautiful moment.
Protest songs are, of course, also in attendance. Shocked pleads with the American people on “Ballad of the Battle of the Ballot and the Bullet Part I: Ugly Americans,” shooting daggers of reality while admitting that she’d really love to say that things “just ain’t that bad.”
“Other People” tackles a similar thesis, utilizing the underpinning of a break-up song to voice dissent about rotten American policies.
Whether she’s talking about love or rightly raging about politics, Michelle Shocked is a passionate voice in folk music. She tackles a wide variety of styles, attaching segments of rock, folk, and soul to her biting critiques and affectionate moments. Soul of My Soul is an enthusiastic, exhilarating collection of music from one of the world’s most underappreciated, compelling voices.