Sam Shinazzi has been a stalwart of the Sydney indie scene for years – decades even! His slowburn career has been marked by consistency and a strength of low-key yet mature and heartfelt songwriting. His latest and his sixth album, Days I Won’t Forget (Stanley Records) is his best yet. He’s found a really wonderful balance between that lazy acoustic strum that forms the backbone of his songs and their fleshed-out form courtesy of a band that has the subtlety and the vocabulary to dig into a bruised, heartland indie rock anthem and then slow their collective pulse to a wistful and authentic alt-country ballad.
Of the new album, Shinazzi explains that “it has a strong theme of looking back; reminiscing – while this is not worlds away from what I have done before, it was noticeable when writing the first few songs. It is not, in my opinion only, one person’s point of view but a number of lives looking back at various ages and times in their lives. Wondering how they got to where they are; there are positives and negatives,” before adding that “it is about reaching a point where, in some of these stories, people are communicating exactly how they feel about those they are thinking about and wanting to communicate with.
‘Closing Time’ (featuring guest vocals from Katie Brianna) might be the finest song Shinazzi has written. The overwhelming melancholy and late-night sway of the song hits hard, even with the spark of optimism that permeates the song. Shinazzi reveals that it was one of the first songs written for the album. “It certainly sent me in a direction musically and lyrically. It has a bit of a classic structure format-wise. It did feel special, the ones that come quick usually do, and I am proud of how it has turned out. But I am proud of all the songs, and really appreciative the record has been released by Stanley Records and that people are giving it some spins!“
You can hear Shinazzi’s influences – The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, The Jayhawks, the Bruce name-checking cleverly woven into the story of a man looking back and picking apart regrets. That sense of reminiscing, the flashing of memories through verses and choruses is perfectly conveyed in Shinazzi’s voice. He possesses an unassuming, low-key delivery that rides the melodies with real warmth and a weariness that always seems to gently tug on the heartstrings.
Shinazzi was kind enough to answer our Sonic Kicks Q&A, revealing some of the albums that shaped his musical life.
The first album I bought:
Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen when I was in primary school, from a music/sports equipment store in my suburb. I had no idea Bruce would become my idol in life, for all my life. The production hasn’t aged particularly well, but song for song I still love that album.
The album that soundtracked a relationship:
Perfect From Now On – Built To Spill
The album that inspired me to form a band:
Let Me Come Over by Buffalo Tom. It was the perfect combination of acoustic and electric guitars, heart on sleeve lyrics with yearning vocals. It made me want to go from listening to it on my stereo with headphones to writing my own songs and performing them in front of strangers.
The album that reminds me of my high school years:
Nevermind by Nirvana. Thankfully it killed off a bunch of really average bands we thought were more important than they were, and it opened our ears to music we still hold dear to this day.
The album I’d love to hear live and played in full:
Being There – Wilco
My favourite album cover art:
Hourly Daily – You Am I
A guilty pleasure album I own:
New Jersey by Bon Jovi. I bought it on cassette (a few years before Nirvana’s Nevermind) and played drums to it every afternoon after school. I last listened to it in the van with the boys on the way to Tamworth a month ago, air drumming every single beat.
The last album I bought:
You Reap What You Sow – The Weeping Willows
A recent album I want to buy:
Marrow Gold – Ben Leece