Brian Shapiro Band – Better in TX

Brian Shapiro and his musical compatriots come together again for their latest single “Better in TX” and the results stick with you. The Philadelphia based four piece recently finished their third album You Me Future Now and the collection continues expanding on the same bold, open-minded songwriting perspective driving their debut and sophomore efforts. Shapiro, drummer Ben Kutner-Duff, guitarist Rory Flynn, and bassist Ed Moman never play as a glorified solo vehicle, despite Shapiro’s prominence, and “Better in TX” continues showing the unified approach bringing them this far. It’s socially conscious, without a doubt, but never tiresome and that fact alone shows their maturity – as performers and songwriters.

There’s a surprising amount of humor, perhaps surprising, scattered throughout the release. It’s biting satire, however, instead of outright browbeating. Shapiro has a level of artistry that few art rock composers share and he obviously prefers dismantling those who would deny basic human rights piece by piece rather than ripping them asunder. His typical theatrical delivery doesn’t dampen his message any but, instead, gives it a much needed spin separating it from other would-be “topical” tracks.

Counterpointing it with Amelia Bushell’s vocal talents makes it an even more compelling performance. She doesn’t attempt to compete with Shapiro’s role in the performance but, instead, intends to provide a female voice contrasting his male contributions. She strikes a much more emotional note, as well, without ever pandering for the listener’s attention. One of the keys to her successful contribution is that it isn’t omnipresent. Shapiro and his bandmates aren’t eager to play their trump card straight away. Holding back enhances her effect on the song.

It’s cut to the right length as well. Everything is focused towards serving a single end rather than wallowing in needless self indulgence. Much of the reason why Shapiro’s challenging material connects is because he eschews any sort of sidetrips. Serving the song is paramount and you won’t hear any pseudo-virtuoso trips marring this single. What we hear, instead, is a four man band with guest singer and piano driving towards an inevitable yet satisfying conclusion.

It has a sound with plenty of oomph as well. “Better in TX” never tries overwhelming listeners, however, and pays equal attention to the elements that make this song a success. It’s clear that piano is a stretch for the band and they are right to focus on that feature. It turns the song’s trajectory in a specific direction, but it’s a credit to Shapiro that he doesn’t neglect the complete experience.

It makes “Better in TX” a packed trip. There’s everything here capable of satisfying listeners and, especially, winning over new converts to Shapiro’s musical direction. Bringing Bushell’s vocal skills into play further enhances an already excellent track and it’s firmly in keeping with the collaborative nature of his album releases. It’s one of those songs that does a good job as a standalone release and works just as well within the context of a larger collection. “Better in TX” is one of the Brian Shapiro Band’s best songs yet.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *