REVIEW: Shook Twins Show New Side of Folk Music at Freight & Salvage

Posted by David Knowles

Shook Twins Still

Performing the song "Daemons" from their new album, What We Do, Portland, Oregon's, Shook Twins had some friendly advice for their audience.

"Don't be lazy," Katelyn (guitar, ukulele, vocals) and Laurie Shook (banjo, vocals, oversized shaker egg), the group's identical twin songwriters, harmonized.

With strikingly original songs that meld blues, folk, bluegrass, and pop in totally unexpected ways, Shook Twins are a group that has used those words as its motto in writing What We Do (Curlypinky Records), their fourth full-length album.

While the word about Shook Twins doesn't appear to have quite gotten out—Freight & Salvage was only half-full on the Thursday night of the show—my guess is those empty seats will be gone in a few months' time, because this is a band that packs a tremendous amount of artistry and talent into their compositions.

Part Devendra Banhardt-inspired freak-folk, part Louvin Brothers traditionalism, Shook Twins keep you guessing. Blues-based songs turn suddenly quiet and introspective, ukulele numbers suddenly erupt into layered, practically symphonic textures, hip-hop beats permeate bluegrass instrumentation, and the Shook sisters hold it all together with soulful vocals that—my one real complaint about the evening—could have been louder in the mix.

For the better part of the past few years, Shook Twins have worked the festival circuit, playing in places where the crowd sleeps in tents each night. It was at such a gathering that they met their gifted lead guitar and mandolin player, Niki "Slice" Dauossis, who is so-nicknamed because the Shooks took pity on him, offering him a slice of their own tent one night. Traveling the country in a green spray-painted school bus that reeks of patchouli, Shook Twins have certainly learned how to put on a show, but Katelyn and Laurie still exude a nervous stage energy that makes you root for them all the more.

What's really exciting about Shook Twins is their astounding creativity. What We Do is a nearly flawless album that pushes the band into unexplored sonic territory. In a live setting, the group—which also includes bass, drums, and fiddle—is out there preforming it the same way.

See more The Week in Acoustic Guitar: April 14-20 articles.

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