Chemistry is a crucial but often undersold aspect of making good music in a band.

By Evan McKay

If it’s bad, then there’s not much hope of growing beyond infancy; but if it’s good, then there is unlimited potential. In the case of local supergroup Shadowhand, there’s nothing but chemistry and potential and as they near the advent of their debut LP Through The Fog the excitement within and around the band is beginning to grow.

Although supergroup may be a term usually reserved for internationally successful rock groups like The Travelling Wilburys or Temple of The Dog, it can aptly be applied to Shadowhand as well. Containing members from various local bands such as Lost To The River, How Far To Mexico, and Winchester Warm, Shadowhand blends the stylings of each members strengths to create something really quite intriguing and beautifully crafted.

With Jamieson Mackay on guitar and lead vocals, Sean Tansey providing drums, Matthew Corbiere on guitar, and Brandon Allan Walsh on bass, Shadowhand envelops the listener in a spacey trance. The nine-track LP Through The Fog, out March 10th, explores the variance of each members abilities, finding everyone playing to their strengths and ultimately resulting in an impressive introduction to the band.

Through The Fog sounds like how summer nights feel when you’re surrounded by a good group of friends. The night moves slow and steady or quick and groovy and sometimes a moment can linger for a blissful eternity. The album fills you up with wonder and transfixes you without displacing your surroundings. Mackay and Corbiere create a spacey and echoey feeling with their guitar work, adding beautiful depth. The songs still manage to feel grounded with Tansey and Walsh’s tight rhythm section.

While beginning as a solo project of Mackay’s, Shadowhand was originally only meant to release a single five-track EP in late 2016.

Shadowhand 2 - Ottawa Beat

“I had a bunch of songs I was playing solo” said Mackay, “and I wanted to make a record.” However during recording, songs became “retooled” and reimagined.

Walsh says though Jamieson was originally imagining folk tunes, the band evolved the music together. Corbiere said reworking the songs helped it feel more natural.

“Then we all sort of realized it was something a little different and a little more special,” said Corbiere. “We decided that maybe we should look beyond the one project and make it a full time thing.”

After playing a handful more shows and writing a few more songs together, Shadowhand went back to recording and began work on a longer release with a brand new concept in mind. They work together effortlessly and the ebb and flow of musical creativity pays off.

“It was so easy because everyone just did what they naturally do,” said Walsh.“Jamieson is a soloist and plays lots of leads and Matt is perfect at playing atmospheric stuff. Me and Sean have been playing together for so long that we just locked in so easily.”

A song like “Tell Me Why” off of the new album illustrates this perfectly wherein everyone sounds exceptional and never overbearing on one another. The band sounds as if they’ve been at it for years, and they kind of have been. The album sounds so unique yet almost familiar to those who’ve heard these very talented musicians play in their own projects over the past few years. However, hearing this collaboration is truly something special.

“There was no discussion about what we should sound like,” said Walsh.

“Or what the roles are,” Corbiere interjected. “We’re a band of four front men and songwriters. And that could, on paper, seem a little contentious, but there was never any ego in the room.”

After almost a year and a half in the making, Shadowhand will be releasing Through The Fog on March 10 at St. Albans Church with The Heavy Medicine Band and Merganzer. A vinyl form of the album can also be expected from Record Centre Records, which will be available the night of the St. Albans show along with a pop-up shop by Tall Pines Thrift.