This now-defunct Philadelphia folk rock supergroup?s debut album was ten years in the making, with co-songwriters, Dave Bielanko (Marah) and Eden Daniels (Baby Flamehead), having started the project as far back as 1995. They co-wrote the album, but broke up (personally and professionally) before it was released. Guitarist Chris Unrath discovered the master tapes when he relocated his studio and by popular demand, the participants decided to reunite to polish up the album, record a few tracks and give it the proper release it deserved. The ten tracks soar on Daniels? immaculately crystalline vocals, but also benefit from wonderful embellishments like Brice Langfeld?s lap steel on the jaunty opener, ?The Letter? and ex-Camper Van Beethovan violinist, Jonathan Segel?s uplifting air on ?Sun Goes Down? and ?You Want More.?
Bielanko?s easy, laidback acoustic guitar arrangements imbue the tracks with a friendly, folky aroma of Americana that should catch the ears of fans of Wilco, Espers and The Jayhawks. I also liked the electric guitar solo that Daniels? Baby Flamehead partner, Chris Unrath contributes to ?Small Grey House,? adding a more rocking element to the proceedings.
?Jesus Is My Friend? is more than wimpy, Christian rock. Riding high on co-writer, Andrew Chalfen?s simply, yet catchy guitar riff, the three guitar and multi-percussive backing, multi-layered vocals and Segel?s violin all contribute to one of the album?s strongest tracks and finds the band more than adequately exploring their poppier side. Segel and Unrath trade violin and guitar solos on the peppy ?All My Days,? another full band, rocking extravaganza, with more than a distinct aroma of 10,000 Maniacs hovering about. The disk ends with the bonus track, ?Coal,? from their only previous release, 1997?s ?Seasons Greetings Philadelphia.? It?s a downhome country stomper, highlighted by Mike Brenner?s sprightly dobro and lap steel, and when was the last time you heard those on a Christmas song?!
Light, but not lightweight folky pop that, to quote The Cure?s Robert Smith, is sure to ?see your shoes and your spirits rise!? Unfortunately, it appears that the resurrection of these ten year old tracks will be all we will hear from The Shimmers. Bielanko has moved on to form Marah with his brother, Serge (who provides beer and harmonica on a couple of tracks herein); Daniels is a successful TV and movie wardrobe director, Chalfen is now in The Trolleyvox, and Unrath is a popular Philadelphia producer. But there was a time ten years ago that they all came together to make beautiful music and now you can finally enjoy the results. 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (9 May, 2007)