Elvie Shane’s Authentic Journey To Damascus

Interview by Rebecca Clark

Elvie Shane is a rising star in country music. Shane has been making waves with his unique blend of soul and rock and roll infused into traditional country sounds. Drawing comparisons to iconic artists like Eric Church and Johnny Cash, Shane is carving out his own path in the industry with unflinching honesty and compassionate clarity in his music.

With a heart that beats in synchrony with the struggles and triumphs of others; Shane possesses an innate ability to inhabit the experiences of those who inspire him. Crafting songs that resonate with raw authenticity. Writing what you know but from someone else’s perspective is an extremely powerful talent Shane encompasses. Shane released his second studio album Damascus on April 19th showcasing his story telling talent.

“One really good example of that part of the record (stepping into someone else’s shoes while writing) would be ‘215634,’ Shane said. “My oldest childhood friend and I we’re into the same things in our twenties, but for some reason he kept getting in trouble. He was in prison most of his twenties and he was out on parole and a man had threatened his life over some kind of civil dispute. And this guy meant business and if you come from where I come from you know if this guy said he he’s going to kill you, he might do it. So, my buddy acquired a handgun and sure enough this guy kicked in the door on him one day with a pistol and put it up to his face and my buddy pulled his gun out and shot and killed this man. But since he was a felon in possession of a firearm, he wasn’t able to claim self-defense. I was talking to him on the phone one day and he said ‘man they changed my name,’ I said ‘what they change your name to brother?’ And he said, ‘215634.’ I was like dang that’s awful and I felt like this is an important story to be told.”

In Johnny Cash fashion, Shane had the opportunity to perform “215634” at a recent show at a Kentucky prison, and Shane expressed that he hoped that he did justice to those individuals and that they seemed appreciative of him performing for them.

Delving into the meaning behind the title of Shane’s album Damascus, he opened up about what it meant to him. “There’s a couple meanings to the name of the record,” Shane explained.

One source of the name lies in the biblical tale of Saul’s conversion to Paul on the road to Damascus, symbolizing a transformative journey from persecution to profound influence. Shane reflected on his own journey, feeling a parallel after the release of his first record, Backslide.

“After our first record came out, Backslide, that’s exactly what I did,” Shane said. “I backslid, I kind of went downhill from there and didn’t really know what my purpose was or what to do after that first record and so I felt like I was on my own little road to Damascus.”

Shane struggled to find his purpose. Through conversations with a co-writer, the concept of “Damascus” as an album title emerged, signifying a fusion of diverse influences akin to Damascus steel. Damascus steel is a type of steel renowned for its distinctive wavy pattern and exceptional strength, achieved through the forging together of layers of different types of steel with varying carbon levels.

Which is a metallurgical metaphor representing Shane’s genius of combining different genres and styles of music into a cohesive whole, akin to forging a strong, unique blade. When Shane began the writing process for what would become Damascus, the songs varied in topics and genres. “What started happening is we would write these songs and there was very stark contrast in the songs stylistically, topic wise and in all these different ways,” Shane said. “In that moment I thought ‘How do I make all of these different sounds, topics and songs fit together on one record?’ and that is when Damascus came to me.”

“I never want to put the same record out twice,” Shane said. “The only way I feel like to really explore what your sound is, is to reach even further into your influences. I love a lot of different music from Johnny Cash to Mac Miller to Nirvana to hair metal. So, I wanted to take these different types of steel these different genres and artists and everything and meld them together and put them in the forge, and hopefully come out with a beautiful strong blade called Damascus.”

Shane spoke passionately about the need for artistic freedom and authenticity, drawing from his own experiences and observations of the world around him. “I needed freedom,” Shane added. “And that narrative gave me freedom to explore, and I feel Oscar Charles, my producer, did a great job of making all of this different stuff very cohesive with each other.”

Throughout the interview, Shane’s authenticity shone through as he shared personal anecdotes and reflections on his musical journey. From the challenges of recording emotionally charged tracks to the joy of connecting with fans through his music, Shane’s passion for his craft was profound.

“I went where it was necessary to go to focus on the topics within this record that I found important,” Shane said. “That was more than anything that was working class struggle, but things that live within that working class struggle like addiction and prison reform and religious issues and political issues. So, it was a very difficult year and a half process, but I feel like something good came out of it.”

Among the remarkable tracks on Damascus, “Winning Horse” stands out as a deeply heartfelt piece. The track was initially born from Shane’s frustrations with his label and his desire to take the reins to dig deep and lead the creation of his album. But the song evolved into a testament to his self-belief and commitment to his craft, paralleling the depth of his love for his wife. As the songwriting process unfolded, it transformed into a powerful expression of devotion. Through “Winning Horse,” Shane not only asserts his autonomy but also showcases his unwavering faith in both his artistry and personal relationships.

“As we were writing I felt like ‘Winning Horse’ could be a really powerful love song too or tribute to my wife,” Shane explained. “So, I put girl in the chorus and sent it to my wife. She called me in tears and said, ‘this song is so you, this is this is the best.’ I was like great the only love song I ever write my wife or write (in general) and send to my wife that makes her cry was the song I wrote to a dude at the label.”

“You draw inspiration from many places,” Shane added while laughing.

The journey to creating Damascus was fraught with numerous obstacles and challenges, threatening to derail the album’s completion. However, Shane tenaciously pushed forward, tapping into his creativity, and rallying the support of his exceptionally gifted friends to ensure the record reached fruition.

Shane used some of the same studio musicians that were on Backslider in the beginning of recording for Damascus, but because of budget issues Shane couldn’t use them for the rest of the album.

“When I was faced with some budget issues, I had to figure out a way to get around it,” Shane said. “I still had to make this record and I asked myself ‘how do we do this?’ So, I hollered at my friends because l loved the demos that we were making as we were writing these songs, and I asked them ‘why don’t you guys just play on this record?’”

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Shane because it allowed him to take the reins and not have time constraints with their recording process. They took over the producer’s studio for several days, accommodating everyone’s schedules, including their families, which allowed for spontaneous bursts of creativity at any hour. The album was able to flow and come naturally verses being forced to be created in certain time schedules.

“I wrote pretty much the whole record with a group eight or nine people,” Shane said.  “It was just the people that happened to be around the most and my closest group of friends. They understood the things that I was dealing with during that time, and they were there for it and they’re just as passionate as I am about trying to make this thing a thing and have a sound. They’re proud of their work on the record as well.”

When asked about his advice for aspiring musicians, Shane emphasized the importance of perseverance and dedication. He encouraged new artists to pursue their passion wholeheartedly, regardless of the obstacles they may face along the way.

“Just to pursue it,” Shane said. “I always say I grew up in a ‘yeah right town’ and I didn’t think that it was a possible thing for me. I think there’s so many more tools available for young artists these days and from for whatever medium your artist is expressed in, you can do so much with social media. Get out there and just do it.”

As Shane continues to make his mark on the country music scene, Damascus stands as a testament to his artistry and commitment to storytelling. With its powerful blend of influences and heartfelt lyrics, the album invites listeners on a journey of self-discovery and introspection.

In a music industry often characterized by trends and commercialism, Elvie Shane remains a beacon of authenticity and honesty. With each song he shares, Shane invites audiences to connect on a deeper level, reminding us of the transformative power of music to touch hearts and inspire change.

Check out Shane’s hidden gem track “First Place.” A collaboration with Little Big Town on his album Damascus

DAMASCUS Track Listing: 

1. Outside Dog – written by Elvie Shane, Oscar Charles, Jonathan Sherwood
2. What Do I Know – written by Elvie Shane, Oscar Charles, Dan Couch, Jonathan Sherwood
3. Jonesin’ (feat. Jenna McClelland) – written by Elvie Shane, Oscar Charles, Ryan Tyndell, Jeremy Spillman
4. Baptized – written by Elvie Shane, Luke Preston, Dan Couch, Oscar Charles
5. Forgotten Man – written by Elvie Shane, Luke Preston, Dan Couch, Oscar Charles
6. Pill – written by Elvie Shane, Lee Starr, Nick Columbia
7. 215634 – written by Elvie Shane, Adam Wood, Ben Chapman
8. Appalachian Alchemy – written by Elvie Shane, Luke Preston
9. First Place (feat. Little Big Town) – written by Elvie Shane, Adam Wood, Dan Couch, Jakob Miller
10, Winning Horse – written by Elvie Shane, Dan Couch, Oscar Charles
11. Fan On High – written by Elvie Shane, Driver Williams, Hayes Carll
12. Chicken Shit – written by Elvie Shane, Jeremy Spillman, Ryan Tyndell, Oscar Charles
13. Does Heaven Have A Creek – written by Elvie Shane

Follow Elvie Shane on Social Media