Potential and heart. These are the two words that continue to echo between my ears as I make my way through Shay Martin Lovette's debut album, Swift Drifting. The former is a strong base, necessary for anyone to attempt a launch into a career in recorded music, while the latter is the key that separates the stars from the burnouts. From slow, simple acoustic ballads reminiscent of desert-bound troubadours of days past to bluesy-country inspired jams, Lovette wears his heart on his sleeve as he explores his identity as a songwriter before our very eyes in this EP.
In each track, we see a glimpse of Lovette's life—full of joy, pain, yearning, accomplishment, and heartbreak—a relatable swath of emotional experiences that tie his mollifying sound to the listener. After tragically losing his younger brother to a terminal illness, Lovette left his corporate job and moved to the quaint Blue Ridge Mountain town of Boone, North Carolina to pursue a music career in a move that many of us would only dream of making. Inspired by the unwavering sense of optimism and adventure his brother displayed while battling for his life, Shay aimed to tackle the universal idea of finding meaning and hope, even and especially during life's darkest times.
The record starts by setting the stage as a personal reflection of what matters in life and how one spends their time, as "Shatter" opens with "In the city for a while, the plot line rearranged. The voice got louder, as the sunset fell away." Lovette explores stripping down life to its bare-bones essentials to focus on family, love, music, and a true experience unadulterated by societal expectations and the run-of-the-mill rat race. The sound and lyrics are pensive and solemn, without drifting too far into a pit of melancholy.
He continues his deep inquiry into the human condition in "Finding Ways", "Burning Blues", and "Petals in the Falling Snow", finally reaching what in my eyes is the most radio-ready track, "Wherever You Roam". With a more up-beat pace, wailing harmonica, and twangy lead guitar throughout, Lovette seems to have found is hit here. Don't simply rely on my opinion though—one of my favorite music platforms, Crackerfarm, seems to be in agreement, as they released an acoustic version just a couple of days ago.
There is something for everyone in Shay Martin Lovette's inaugural project. Whether you want to think, cry, dance, smile—or do all at once—Swift Drifter has you covered. Keep an eye out for more tunes from this Carolina crooner, and be sure to support him by purchasing the record on vinyl, or streaming it on your preferred platform.