Conrad Shiner

Conrad Shiner

 Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, USA
SoloAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

True American Roots Rock from a regular guy who loves to write and play songs as sentimental as they are irreverent, as honest as they are sly.

Biography

This melody-driven debut album from songwriter-singer Conrad Shiner takes listeners on a folk-pop ride through timeless terrain, love lost and found, dreams abandoned and begun, whose rock-and-roll engine powers effortless transitions from words spoken close and tender to laments crowed loud and raw. The Lost Decade is, at heart, American Roots Rock. It's the story of becoming one's own man.

Conrad Shiner is a regular guy who's aware that most folks dont spend ten years writing songs at night and working in an office by day. And that tensionbetween the bare desire to make meaning and the nauseating suspicion that youre an absurd narcissistis the brave, delicate devil that makes this album simultaneously unsettling and familiar.

From the opening line of Present Day, in which, borrowing a line spoken by the drifter Jake in Carson McCullerss novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Shiner sings, I got the Gospel in me, and I need to tell someone, this regular guy goes out on a limb and dangles his heart off the end. Drawn in by his clean melodies, poppy undercurrents, and roots rock drive, you cant help but take him up on his dare: go ahead and let yourself be shamelessly wistful, too.

And what a ride hell take you on. The album is one long invitation: to empathize with the I in Shiners songs and to see yourself in that I. From the first track, Present Day, where he refers to the decades desire thats led him here, to the second, I Was Too Young, where he lays out his mistakes, saying, I didnt know better, and Im not the only one, Shiner digs into what it means to be human, caught between daily regrets tinged with humor and laughs laced with longing. And always, the music is there, not just behind the lyrics, but wrapped around it, sometimes overturning it, with its light, playful rhythms. Shiner even boyishly indulges, during I Was Too Young, in the proverbial rock-and-rollers shout, One, two, three, four!, revealing the joy you can feel even in the midst of recognizing youve done wrong. The joy of clarity, of being able to move forward.

And in the world of The Lost Decade, theres always a second chance. In The Other Side, Shiner uses harmonies and a subtle, nostalgic twang to convey what it feels like to be brave: All our fears are left on the ground as we reach for the other side Ill be there with open eyes on the other side. And you sense as he sings about the woman he loves that shes a real person as much as she is the music.

Second chances require reflection, thoughthe open eyes Shiner evokes. And hes not afraid to go back: reminiscing about the lovely futility of trying to recapture a feeling in Friendly Ghost, revisiting the hometown he left behind in Westinghouse, where he sings that some got out like refugees, living anywhere but here. The electric guitar comes forward here, giving voice to that pull toward a home youll never live in again. The one that will never stop calling you back.

Youd think that such a reflective album would veer into navel-gazing, but Shiner deftly takes you through the highs and lows, giving them equal weight. Ice Gas Beer is a hymn to every summer night you wish would never end, and Lemon Lime is the kind of song you want to play over and over again while you drive around endlessly, all the windows down. The kind you find yourself humming in the kitchen, trying to feel that feeling just one more time. Its always almost in reach. And all the places it came from are always on the verge of slipping away, as when Shiner laments in Friendly Ghost, Who will sing for me?

And in perhaps the most perfect ending ever, Shiner somehow combines the albums entire emotional and musical range in Cadillac. A journey in itself, and by far the longest song, Cadillac starts quietly, with a single breath, in and out. Then, just guitar and Shiners raspy, young voice, that hes not afraid to let warble and wander through the lyrics, under the music, in transitions sometimes awkward, but always real. I hold the taste of the air around you as long as I can". Then, a transition into drums, more guitar, a faster tempo, and his lament and urging: I know I havent tried very hard, but Im finally prepared Hurry, everything is burning down, all our places are burning down. His call from the first track to compose with the fire of a decades desire has now burst into flame, bringing the album full circle. And again, he invokes the tension between the real, when he sings, I know you exist, because I remember that night, honey-brown hair and thighs. But he always overturns the pop-song expectation, and we somehow know hes no longer talking about an actual woman, but rather the experience of loss: The air was like a drug, and you held me tight, but you were gone when I opened my eyes.

What a decade its been. Not lost at all, as it turns out. All right here.

Lyrics

I Was Too Young

Written By: Conrad Shiner

Now girl I knew you for a long long time
And along the way something changed and I had to make you mine

But I never dreamed we would end up like this
The night I went for a hug and you gave me a kiss

Then I
Let you down
As honest as the stars that fall across the sky
And I
Let you down

It was time for something better but took time with us together
To break out my feelings slowly
It was all I could resist the temptation of your kiss
To tell the truth and put you behind me
Behind me

It was a slow ride up then a freefall down
How quickly magic fades when you want that wedding gown

I know it shouldn’t matter that I was just too young
But I didn’t know better and I’m not the only one

Then I
Let you down
As honest as the stars that fall across the sky
And I
Let you down

You think you loved me
But you didn’t know me
You think you loved me

But you didn’t know me
You think you loved me
But you didn’t know me

Then I
Let you down
As honest as the stars that shine across the sky
And I
Let you down

Friendly Ghost

Written By: Conrad Shiner

You are a friendly ghost
I heard you in the car
I want to see the coast
You wouldn’t go that far

You alone were meant to last
As long as black and white photographs
But you’re a long, long way
From home

Now you’re gone
Who will sing for me?
Who will sing for me?
Now you’re gone
Who will sing for me?

You didn’t stay real shy
Showed us all your heart
You said your last goodbyes
I don’t know where to start

You alone were meant to last
As long as black and white photographs
But you’re a long, long way
From home

Now you’re gone
Who will sing for me?
Who will sing for me?
Now you’re gone
Who will sing for me?

Were this not a decent town
Stretched so far so clear
With all my might
I’d sing for you tonight
Hold you near
I need you here
I need you here

The Other Side

Written By: Conrad Shiner

Two hits left on a split cigarette
One paycheck and a pile of debt

Come on grab your sister ‘cause it won’t take long
I got a woman that I love and she keeps me strong

So I call to her
And she’s right inside
All my fears are left on the ground
As we reach for other side

When we talk on the phone
It beats being alone
Though the air is cool I feel
My temperature rise

And sleep I guess
Is the daughter of death
But I’ll be there with open eyes
On the other side

Empty is the comfort of our earthly things
Combing through the problems of what it all brings

Ten years of talking about where we’ll be
Growing closer through the struggle and you stay with me
Growing closer through the struggle and you stay stay with me

So I call to her
And she’s right inside
All our fears are left on the ground
As we reach for other side
The other side

When we talk on the phone
It beats being alone
Though the air is cool I feel
My temperature rise

And sleep I guess
Is the daughter of death
But I’ll be there with open eyes
On the other side

Westinghouse

Written By: Conrad Shiner

Northwest of Pittsburgh
Down West Hill from Ohio
No one in New York knows
This steel town

Both grandfathers worked there
The uncles on my mother’s side
Some cousins dropped high school
For double pay
Working holidays

Oh, Sharon
You’re a dot on the interstate
A glance back
On the way to another country
Your voice was
Made from mourning doves

Some got out like refugees
Living anywhere but here
They won’t drive on State Street
Or remember
The four O’clock shift change

All our hiding places are gone
On the street behind the stadium
Some cousins start night school
After layoffs
And divorce
Of course
Oh, of course

Oh, Sharon
You’re a dot on the interstate
A glance back
On the way to another country
Your voice was
Made from mourning doves

I didn’t know their names then
I didn’t know
That what I heard were birds

Now the sun is beating hard
Where light does not belong
This building used to be
A solid mile long

Grandfathers underground
At Saint Rose’s
Nothing’s coming back from dust
When the double door closes

Oh, Sharon
You’re a dot on the interstate
A glance back
On the way to another country
Your voice was
Made from mourning doves

Say Goodbye For Me

Written By: Conrad Shiner

Say goodbye for me
Tell her I had to let it go
Say goodbye for me
I wish I could say it myself

I don’t want to
Wonder why you never stayed around this town
Search for clues and follow on your faintest trail
I don’t want to
Beg for love I know you’re not even capable of
And live trapped with no escape inside your spell

Say goodbye for me
It’s starting to make a lot of sense
Say goodbye for me
Letting go is my only defense

I don’t want to
Wonder why you never stayed around this town
Search for clues and follow on your faintest trail
I don’t want to
Beg for love I know you’re not even capable of
And live trapped with no escape inside your spell

But I got to know
I got to know
I got to know

When
When can I see you around?
When will you ever come down?
When will you ever come around?

When
When can I see you around?
When will you ever come down?
When will you ever come around?

Oh, come on