Shellee Coley
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Shellee Coley

Magnolia, Texas, United States | INDIE

Magnolia, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Shellee Coley – The Girl The Stencil Drew"

My affection for Amy Grant knows few bounds. As opposed to just about anyone else who’s ever been anything close to a “superstar” in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) circles, Mrs. Gill has never had a problem singing real songs about real life situations, no matter how rough or uncomfortable things might be. Whether we’re talking about her magnum opus (Lead Me On), her big “crossover” pop record (Heart In Motion), or anything else in her canon, there’s something true and uncompromisingly honest about her music. Much like her “secular” country/folk-rock contemporaries, she’s never been interested in sugarcoating her inner struggles just to sell a record or score a hit single.

Houston, TX singer-songwriter Shellee Coley possesses those self-same lyrical propensities in spades, which makes her debut release, The Girl The Stencil Drew, undeniably appealing. Sonically, this is an extremely accessible, should-be-radio-friendly blend of folk, country, and pop akin to Grant’s Behind The Eyes and Patti Griffin’s Flaming Red. But more importantly, these six songs feature the sort of straight-from-the-kitchen sentiments about married life and figuring out adulthood that should ring true to those of us who have thankfully grown too old for teenage paeans about naïve love.

Moreover, the album is highlighted by a classy, pinpoint production aesthetic, one that puts Coley’s vivid voice up front-and-center. Her expressive, dusky alto, sits up tall over the instrumentation, which itself is big and full. There’s a distinct knack for balance and clarity on display here, complete with a keen desire to make sure that Coley’s lyrics are clearly heard, but without overwhelming the mix.

Led by “Uncomfortable” (a track about struggling with body image issues) and “I Want To Know” (a song about frustrations with unknowing and the accompanying questions), The Girl The Stencil Drew is a smart, sharp, taut little pop record. There’s nothing done to excess here, as everything from the production levels to the emotional levels seem to be in the right place and in the right amounts. And much like her stylistic influences, Shellee Coley knows how to tell a great story while allowing the listener room to place him/herself inside the song for even greater impact. - Dryvetyme Onlyne - by Adam Newton

"Shellee Coley CD Release"

Not too long ago, an old sound guy told Rocks Off that if people would turn it down just a little it would be louder than anything else, a suddenly startling quiet. Every time we get ahold of a new release from Woodlands studio/label Red Tree, we get a sample of that wonderful quiet sincerity.
Shellee Coley's six-song EP The Girl the Stencil Drew is right up there with previous singer-songwriter Red Tree releases like Kathryn Hallberg's No Surprise and Red Tree co-owner Jeff Armstreet's own We're Alright Down Here. Like on those releases, Coley's soft voice is a balm for the cynical soul and a respite from the pain of having to try and be so damn cool all the time.

Do you remember what it was like in 1995 when Jewel released Pieces of You? Amid the power pop of Silverchair, Matthew Sweet and Weezer came a simple set of songs from Alaska that ground everyone to a halt just for a chance to warm there hands by the pleasant fire of a sad siren. Coley follows that tradition with her songs of falling apart and coming back together again.
There is in all the music a mixture of irony and self-deprecation, but underneath it all is love and kind of music that only makes a person feel good to be alive. The arrangements are top-notch, the music strong and proud, but this album is sold on the on the poetry of its lyrics and the sad happiness of their delivery. We highly recommend The Girl the Stencil Drew as the soundtrack for all the moments that matter in your life. - Houston Press - Review by Jef Rouner


Where It Began - 2/28/2012
The Girl the Stencil Drew EP - 12/2009



A little over three years ago, Shellee Coley found herself sitting on the sofa at the home of music producer, Jeffrey Armstreet, discussing the possibility of recording her first album. Coley hadn't thought about it since college, which found the former Belmont University alumna living the Nashville life while gigging around town with a band, co-write sessions on the side and a record deal on the table.

After several life altering events, including marriage (of now over 14 years), the birth of her two children and a serious car accident, her music career went on a temporary hiatus. When her husband took a job in the music industry and relocated their family to Texas, Coley discovered a tight-knit music community in Magnolia Red that led to rediscovering her passion and intrigue for music.

In 2009, she signed with Magnolia Red and released her debut EP “The Girl the Stencil Drew,” with the assistance of Armstreet, whom Coley credits with helping find her sound. The EP received high critical acclaim and adoration from all around the region.

At the heart of it, Coley considers herself to be a songwriter first. "I don’t write songs to fit into a specific category," said Coley. "I love all sorts of music, so a lot of different styles tend to show up in my songs.”

As she entered the studio for a second time, with Armstreet once again at the helm, to begin work on the upcoming “Where It Began,” the emphasis on songwriting became the focus of the sessions. Instead of trying to fit each song into a genre, the sonic qualities lend themselves to the contents of each composition. The resulting sound presents itself in the form of Coley's own custom brew of folk, Americana, country with pop undertones all tied together by the accessible sound of Coley's dusky vocals.

Throughout the album, Coley expresses a perspective and message that becomes universal to the listener. With songs such as “All I Want” and “Bright Idea,” that describe the feelings of fear and frustration with accumulating bills and financial obstacles to “Home to You” and “The Trees” that show gratitude for the people that mean the most, Coley writes about every-day battles and sentiments that help define the transition and permeates throughout adulthood. One idea that is expressed throughout the album are the moments that happen in between life’s big events.

“I think we tend to forget about all the little stuff that gets us through every day and so that’s what tends to come up in my songs,” said Coley. “Marriage, birth and death are huge events that we measure life by, but the memories surrounding those events are what I like to celebrate in my music."