NPR logo
Fellow Travelers
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245257365" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
First Listen: Shearwater, 'Fellow Travelers'

First Listen: Shearwater, 'Fellow Travelers'

Fellow Travelers
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245257365" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Shearwater's new album, Fellow Travelers, comes out Nov. 26.

Shearwater's new album, Fellow Travelers, comes out Nov. 26. James Hamilton/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption James Hamilton/Courtesy of the artist

Shearwater's new album, Fellow Travelers, is built around a neat gimmick: Each of its 10 songs pays tribute to an artist with whom the band has toured. Given that musicians tend to tour with like-minded peers, it's no surprise that Fellow Travelers provides a reasonably natural extension of Shearwater's stormy but hooky, prettily dramatic sound.

But a list of the artists covered sprawls in a surprising number of directions. It's tough to sketch a through-line that intersects with both the tortured artiness of Xiu Xiu ("I Luv the Valley OH!!") and the stridently soaring accessibility of Coldplay ("Hurts Like Heaven"), and yet there they are, back to back near the beginning of Fellow Travelers. Elsewhere, the album houses a faithfully propulsive cover of Folk Implosion's "Natural One" — a song that requires and receives precious little tinkering — as well as work by artists that fit more seamlessly alongside Shearwater, like Wye Oak ("Mary Is Mary") and St. Vincent ("Cheerleader").

It's telling, though, that Fellow Travelers' best song is one of the band's own: A beautifully brooding Shearwater original, "A Wake for the Minotaur" pairs singer Jonathan Meiburg with the great Sharon Van Etten for a languid, entrancing ballad. It's fascinating to hear Shearwater function as a skeleton key that opens up the works of Xiu Xiu and Coldplay and St. Vincent alike, but nothing sounds quite like Shearwater itself.

Shearwater, 'Fellow Travelers'

Our Only Sun
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256462" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

I Luv the Valley OH!!
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256389" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Hurts Like Heaven
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256435" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Natural One
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256445" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Ambiguity
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256449" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Cheerleader
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256450" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Tomorrow
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256451" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

A Wake for the Minotaur
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256452" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Mary is Mary
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256470" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

F****d Up Life
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/245270678/245256454" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • from Fellow Travelers
  • by Shearwater

Buy Featured Music

Song
Fellow Travelers
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Purchase Featured Music

Fellow Travelers

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.