As you may or may not know, there's a Parisian label/non-profit called Hinah that, as Hush Records founder Chad Crouch puts it, has "fostered creativity with rare kindness and warmth" since 2001. Run by Laurent and Éloïse Orseau, Hinah came into contact with local country chanteuse Shelley Short this past winter when she contacted the collective in regard to setting up an overseas show. Thanks to Hinah cohort Erwan Broussine (of Waterhouse Records), she did just that.
But Short's musical contributions to gay Pari didn't end there. In addition to the resulting set at Paris' Pop In, where she played with idiosyncratic Brooklyn-based songwriter Brittain Ashford
(who's playing at our own Funky Church May 3rd) and Parisian indie-folk duo Pollyanna
, Short played the very first "Hinah Session"
to be recorded at the label's new Parisian flat. The result is a set of recordings that bring the most special thing about Short's craft—her singular voice—to the forefront.
Armed with just an acoustic guitar and that lofty, twangy croon—which I once, somewhat inaccurately, described as a cross between a little girl and Dolly Parton (calling to mind a quite ridiculous image)—Short delivered songs both new (recent standout "Goddamn Thing") and old (an awesomely stripped-down version of "Sunny Side," from '06 release Captain Wild Horse (Rides the Heart of Tomorrow)
, among others). Short has this uncanny ability to run her voice up and down notes with the greatest of ease, as if flitting around a breezy playground—her sweet croon swinging from monkey bar to monkey bar and then taking a ride down the slide. And it's hard not to find a new appreciation for such delicacies on these barren tracks—even if their creation made Short a bit apprehensive:
"It was a nice cozy evening in Paris. After being fed soup and cheese by our gracious hosts Laurent and Éloïse, we sat down and recorded a Hinah session. I always forget that my nerves get all shaken up when there are only a few listeners, when you can hear every creek from the floor boards and the evening birds chirping in the space between songs. Hopefully the nerves didnt seep into the songs too much. I had a wonderful time and got to meet (and listen to) some great folks. What luck to find Hinah!"
The result is what Hinah refers to as "Gifts," free, downloadable MP3s recorded at their headquarters with whatever instruments are available (the label also puts out limited edition CD-Rs of its favorite artists as part of its "Hinah Series," as well as split singles). And gifts they are. Who needs a band, anyway?
Thanks to Hush Records for the tip!
WW's review of Water for the Day
Photo: taken from Short's MySpace.