In many ways, an artist’s second album is often a more difficult release than their first. Between the pressures of expectations, deadlines, and musical confines, second albums can make it feel like you’re starting all over again, but with the weight of additional challenges. That being said, second albums can also be a chance at something brand new.
Wraith, a solo artist from Kansas City, Kansas, has proven that, even when first albums are good, second albums can mean a chance to expand on topics previously covered with a brand new perspective.
The creator of the project, Tony Shannon, has been performing in various forms for the past twenty years, but in the past several, he has played his way around the country “in a slew of dive bars [with] bands that nobody” has ever heard of, including a Progressive metal/Alternative Punk band, Deviator. Tony was the guitarist and vocalist for the group for six or seven years, learning a lot about the music industry and making classic local band memories.
Like many musicians, Tony shared his own dark times that came from this period of his life in song: It “ultimately became fuel for Wraith’s first album, Misanthropy, which was released in June of 2016 and was a concept album about overcoming [his] battle with depression.” Wraith’s upcoming album, From the Ashes, is a “loose-fitting sequel to that record” that goes into Tony’s journey of finding his wife, but also coping with her pancreatic cancer diagnosis and their resulting shared growth as they have been together. Musically, the record is an “experimental post-punk concept [album] that jams a plethora of the different styles of music that [Tony tends] to listen to in an effort to come up with something unique and original.”
Both Misanthropy and From the Ashes are written, performed, and produced by Tony with the exception of a few credited guests. Although Wraith’s new album isn’t yet available, Misanthropy and one of the upcoming album’s singles, “Bone Ash” are already out on BandCamp!
“Bone Ash” begins with ethereal electric guitar tones. The fading echoes of each piece of the riff lead into gruff, deep vocals and an unexpected instrumental section that brings a touch of brightness into the track. Although the vocals could be fuller and smoothed out in the mix, the rising tension of whispers filtered among the instrumental sections gives the track as a whole a nice depth.
The instrumentals of “Bone Ash” fade in and out to allow the vocals to have their time in the forefront towards the end of the song, leaving the track feeling a bit empty without the accompaniment. Although the deep growl of Tony’s voice works best during sections that are balanced out with the highs and mids of the instrumentals, it is easy to understand the lyrics of the track, which are one of its most important elements. Following Tony’s personal development after a failed relationship with his father, the track calls out to those who are involved in manipulative relationships of all kinds: “I reach for what should be love and affection / But is it, or is it really… / Self admiration / Manipulation / Dull conversation /And selfish relationship /It took so long for me to understand / How you seek to better your feelings for yourself by putting me down /
I’m just a pawn in your chess game / But I won’t take your name with me to my grave / oh you know / (Burn this bone to ash and be reborn again from dust) / I’m not your son /
I’m not your son anymore….” Well-written and emotive, the lyrics of “Bone Ash” are the star of the single.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Wraith, stay tuned for the release of From the Ashes in November or December on all major online platforms. Although an exact date is not yet set, limited runs of physical copies will be released based on demand for the record.
If you’re in the Kansas City area, look out for Wraith playing live on stage starting around April 2020!
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***Like the majority of my reviews, a submission fee was charged for this post.***