Last Friday, San Francisco’s Little Shrine released their sophomore LP, The Good Thing About Time. On it, bassist and singer-songwriter Jade Shipman thoroughly explores the past while simultaneously interrogating the present, taking it to task with an unapologetically feminist ethos.
Instrumentally, the album draws from the rich canon of trailblazing folk punk bands like Mischief Brew, but Little Shrine bucks folk punk tradition and does not relish in their own sloppiness. From the lush string arrangements to the driving bluegrass backbeats, The Good Thing About Time is precise and measured, betraying a barely suppressed anger and resentment of the status quo that serves as the foundation for many of the recurring themes across this album.
Many of these album-spanning themes are introduced on the title track. Bursting with classic country-bluegrass licks, Shipman is reflective and nostalgic on “The Good Thing About Time,” but refuses to give the past control over her. The infectious chorus, “The thing about time is that we can’t go back/ We take what we can, but it is the past” is a proud reclamation of life and a message to those healing from trauma. Shipman further discusses inescapable impermanence on “Can’t Take It with You,” this time with a broader focus. Lyrically, the track is harsh and honest, with a sing-song melody that is at odds with the bleak repetition of “You can’t take it with you/ it ends when you die.”
Indeed, death is present all across the album. On “Lost Potential,” a track inspired by the abuse suffered at the hands of her father and one of the stand-out moments on the album, Shipman sings “You’ll never be more than lost potential, merely dead to me.” Again, Shipman shines a spotlight on her harsh lyrics by sneaking them inside a sweet and playful melody. Folk Punk has always been unapologetic by nature, and Shipman continues in this tradition by questioning the very value of forgiveness and regaining control of her narrative.
With a sharp focus on the passing of time, Little Shrine pointedly discusses everything that comes along with leaving something in the past. The memories, regrets and wrongs that could never be righted are explored through lyrics which often eschew structure in favor of honestly. Within the tender melodies and simple song structures, there is no real escape from the base truths in Shipman’s lyrics. Rather than facing these truths with fear or anger, Shipman gives them a middle finger and shines a sparkling light on the inevitable.