Weaving together delicate harmonies and intricate instrumentation, Shadowfields’ recent album “Festival for One” is a master class in Chicago’s Americana revival.
Heather Humphrey and Tom McKeown, the band’s lead songwriters, have challenged each other and learned each other’s musical dance moves over the last 13 years writing together. And their years of experience shows as they orbit each other at the mic, swapping leading melodies and support effortlessly as they pass the spotlight back and forth.
Taking inspiration from musical acts such as Nickel Creek, Fleetwood Mac and Carly Simon, the duo, who started out originally writing songs for publishers, licensing agencies and other artists, has learned to play to each other’s strengths, breathing life into the subtle, nuanced sounds on the new release.
“I was helping her (Heather) write what she felt, to try to put together her ideas. And that was a lot of fun,” McKeown said. “But at some point I noticed there was so much of me in a song we wrote that I said to her maybe we ought to do something together. So it started taking off from there.”
“We’ve found we really balance each other out as a team,” Humphrey said. “It’s not just a hobby for us; it’s a passion. Songwriting is our first love, and we’re gonna be doing this for as many years as I can breathe.”
“Working together helps you define what you really want to be,” McKeown added. “We know what we do and this is who we are. With this particular set of guys in the band, we believe in what we’re doing.”
The two — and the full band, including the talents of Jim Livas, Gary Jacklin and Tony Meadors — will celebrate the album at a hometown release show Thursday, Oct. 24, at Hey Nonny, joined by West suburban indie-folk rockers The Darling Suns.
It’s an unconventional track for the release. The album, which first dropped this summer, saw the light of day outside of Illinois while Shadowfields was out on the Midwestern “Heartland Tour” playing microbreweries and wineries through Wisconsin and Iowa.
“We love our time out on tour,” Humphrey said. “It gives us a better understanding how the audience reacts to the music. Something magical happens on the road. The experience definitely tightens up the music. There’s a freedom to experiment more. Then we can come home and celebrate it with our friends back here.”
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Shadowfields’ “Festival for One” release show with The Darling Suns
When: 7:30 p.m. (doors at 6:30) Thursday, Oct. 24