Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The memory that Shelley Short recounts in an explanation of the background for her song "A Canoo," one of the linchpins of her brand new full-length album "A Cave A Canoo," is one that brings us into the kind of youthful innocence that she never seems to let go of. She tells it this way, "I have a vivid memory of being a child and falling asleep under a table, with a long white table cloth, during a big party. I was always comforted by listening to conversations. It was calming to me, like the sound of the ocean. This one particular time though, my folks thought I was lost and were looking for me everywhere long after the party was over." And it's here that we find Short, the Portland, Oregon, musician, in her most natural surroundings - as if there were no other tasks out there to tackle, but ones that involve getting plenty of sleep, chasing big, fat butterflies throughout any number of meadow lands, losing track of time, counting wet raindrops as they plop down upon an awaiting tongue, and patiently, electrically sitting through a hissing and fissing thunderstorm while cradling a mug of hot chocolate. These are the most strenuous sorts of predicaments that we'll encounter, getting sucked into the kind of wonderland that involves those fuzzy memories of hers as a young girl - perhaps accurate and perhaps enhanced by imagination, rounding them into a form of historic delicatessen whereas these memories are burnished and available for the taking, ready for the tasting whenever someone wants to reach back into the back pages. They always seem more golden, more rife with adventure and wild excitement, as if every day was something completely new to everyone. This thought and action of getting down on hands and knees and crawling under the covering of a tablecloth, as adults sat around the perimeter - eating and drinking, telling grown-up stories about work and gossip about the neighbors and acquaintances - is very romantic. It's made even more romantic by the idea that one - in this case Short - could be lulled to sleep by the comforting and confusing sounds of idle chatter, the bottoms of glasses shifting and sliding drippingly across the above surface of wooden top. And it's doubled again by the added bonus that she was able to fall asleep and be considered lost by frantic parents. Short approaches her songs with the slightest degree of childhood meeting very responsible adult like, the intersection at which both seem to make sense and are nonsensical in the way that we interact with them. It's as if Short grew up eating fruit directly from the trees and from the vines, never washing any of the dirt or the bug prints off, just taking them to the mouth and enjoying. It's as if that's how she'd do it now when no one's looking, reconnecting with those hazy times of yore and with that innocence that just can't be put back together with the amount of ease that one would hope it could be reconstructed. Short's soft and heartfelt songs are everything that comes from this attempt and this desire to maintain all of the beauty that you've ever experienced, to have it at the fingertips, just waiting for a whistle or a wink.
Shelley Short Official Site