Friday, June 9, 2023
Chapel Hill, NC
“Americana duo Violet Bell’s new album Shapeshifter tells a story of the mythological selkie, a mermaid-like creature from Celtic folklore that embodies a form that’s half woman, half seal. In their retelling and reshaping of this ancient folk narrative, they tease out its connections to the transatlantic journey of American roots music, to the cultural and social melting pot of the “New World,” and to agency, intention, and self-possession.
A concept album of sorts, the music is remarkably approachable and down-to-earth, while the stories and threads of the record tell equally ordinary and cosmic tales. At such a time in American history, with fascism once again on the rise and attacks on bodily autonomy and personal agency occurring with greater frequency at every level of governance, Shapeshifter offers a seemingly timeless lens through which to engage with, understand, and challenge the overarching social and political turmoil we all face on the daily. Moreover, it’s an excellent folk record, demonstrating Violet Bell’s connections to North Carolina, Appalachia, and the greater communities that birthed so many of the genre aesthetics evident in the album’s songs.
Shapeshifter is a gorgeous exercise in community building, an artful subversion of societal norms, and a stunning folktale packaged in accessible, resonant music with a local heartbeat and a global appeal.”
-Justin Hiltner, The Bluegrass Situation