First Listen

First Listen: Shearwater, 'Fellow Travelers'

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

itoggle 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'

Cover for Fellow Travelers

Our Only Sun (by Jesca Hoop)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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Song
Our Only Sun
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

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I Luv The Valley OH!! (by Xiu Xiu)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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Song
I Luv the Valley OH!!
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

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Hurts Like Heaven (by Coldplay)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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Song
Hurts Like Heaven
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

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Natural One (by Folk Implosion)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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

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Ambiguity (by David Thomas Broughton)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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

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Cheerleader (by St. Vincent)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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

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Tomorrow (by Clinic)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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

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A Wake For The Minotaur (by Shearwater w/ Sharon Van Etten)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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Song
A Wake for the Minotaur
Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

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Mary Is Mary (by Wye Oak)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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

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F----- Up Life (by The Baptist Generals)

  • Artist: Shearwater
  • Album: Fellow Travelers

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Song
F****d Up Life
Album
Fellow Travelers
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Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

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Purchase Featured Music

Fellow Travelers

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Fellow Travelers
Artist
Shearwater
Label
Sub Pop
Released
2013

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First Listen