Buy Like I Did EP here (Amazon UK)
Most people know Shane Harper from his roles in TV shows such as Good Luck Charlie, Awkward and the gone-too-soon Happyland. He not only lights up the screen in these productions but is also a gifted singer - perhaps best evidenced through his performance in The Passion and his edifying single from God's Not Dead, Hold Me Up. He's now back with his first collection of new songs since 2014's still excellent Dancing In The Rain EP. Like I Did brings together five compositions that explore all facets of human relationships and emotions, in a nuanced, insightful manner that as if Shane has reached into the deepest recesses of your mind and soundtracked your own memories. There's a universal appeal to the lyrics that is also reflected in the music - both are symbiotically entwined to give the listener an experience that is all too often lost with the studio trickery and musical fads of today. This is classic, enduring composition - focusing on words and melody that will linger long after the song has finished. The EP speaks for itself, but here are some thoughts on each resplendent track...
- Like I Did ~ the first track (and title track) is always important for establishing the tone of the project. It sets out the raw emotions that Shane examines throughout the EP from the get-go. It's icy cool piano chords and a narrative exploring whether an ex is as happy in their new relationship, if their new beau is as in love as Shane was/is. The sparse instrumental accompanying Shane's resonant tones seem purposeful - it accentuates the hurt in his singing as he tries to give an aura of indifference. There's no indifference though - as crashing percussion and vibrant guitar texture the backdrop, it enhances the passion Shane still feels - making this a devastating denouement of love gone wrong. Entirely captivating - quite rightly the lead single for this project.
- See You Around ~ This continues the insights into how a love ripped apart can have long lasting effects. The uptempo nature of the music seems to be the representation of how we put on a brave smile in public to hide the hurt that simmers below the surface. The words ring true for anyone who has, sadly, been had this situation happen to them. Shane doesn't just sing them - he performs with a nuanced understanding against a backdrop of percolating beats, racing rhythms and an insistent percussion that, just like your heart (and life), goes on til the end. I've always been a fan of heartache mixed with a more sunny pop shimmy and Shane has done an exquisite job balancing both here.
- Anything But Love ~ If the EP tells a story, then Shane is moving on and has learned to be clear in his intentions. This exhilarating gem details all the way love encompasses your whole being and makes the world that little bit brighter. It's set to engaging chimes, a rave-esque dance beat and a groove so scintillating that if you're not pulling shapes on the dance floor by the time the first chorus drops you need to check your pulse. There's still an air of melancholy in the lyrics - amidst the lure of the nightlife soundtrack Shane has created, there is a juxtaposition in the relationship. He wants love, she wants anything but. Can't the boy get a break? I feel guilty that his misery sounds so darn good.
- P.O.W.E.R ~ I've always felt that pop music should have an element of musical theatre about it; the way it tells a story should beam images into your mind as powerful as anything you can see on Broadway or London's West End. P.O.W.E.R does just that - it's not only a sensational, feel-good pop tune, it also feels like it could be that elevating solo moment in some forward thinking musical; the moment that gets the audience behind the character, rooting for love to win out and sets the story for a triumphant finish. The music, alongside Shane's gloriously expressive vocals, conjures up images of fireworks, of sparkling night skies, of arms stretched out, spinning, in gratification of all the wonderful opportunities life has to offer. Now that's the power of P.O.W.E.R...
- Satellite ~ And so this cohesive piece of work comes to an end, and Shane wants to leave the listener with a different type of euphoria than the type we experienced on the previous track. This alt-rock influenced vibe lets you know that you can spread your wings and fly. You just need to believe in yourself. It's beautifully put together and that soaring chorus will surely send goosebumps up your arms and shivers down your spine. It's a sermon that I willingly subscribe to - the best endorphin rush you can imagine. It's a final rallying call to arms, a sensation that will inspire you to be kind, do good and realise the potential within you that you need only unlock with self-belief. Magnificent close to a sterling body of work. Shane Harper, my good man, I salute you.