In Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
local musician Tyson Ballew, aka Old Shoes, belts out acoustic pop-punk ditties like the fate of the world depends on it. He strums exuberantly, fingerpicks odd tempos and yell-sings in wavering keys. He’s as restless as a riot grrl and earnest as a poet. But if that all sounds a bit annoying, rest assured, it’s not.
Ballew has an incredible ability to be endearingly off-kilter. His strong opinions are softened by a capacity for forgiveness, and he’s just wry enough to keep the positive tone from getting too candied. Sometimes he’s political, like in “FTH v. MFD” where he sings: “you can’t take out those big guys, but you can still save your communities/’Cause there’s a lot of small-town assholes...gonna be wishin’ they hadn’t messed with me.”
Mostly, though, this album is about how much Ballew values his friendships. There’s a song addressed to Milo and Stella (the young children of local husband and wife duo, Two Year Touqe) promising them a great future. “From Cynthia’s Belly and Into Infamy” invokes old music buddies from now-defunct music joint, Jay’s Upstairs. Each song is an intimate story, deftly distilled and executed with great care.
Old Shoes plays with Two Year Touqe, The Pasties and The Pleasure Boaters Wednesday, April 2, at Free Cycles, 732 S. First St., at 8 PM.