From: PA, United States

Rock, Americana, Pop

This melody-driven debut album from songwriter-singer Conrad Shiner takes listeners on a folk-pop ride through timeless terrain—love lost and found, dreams abandoned and begun—whose rock-and-roll engine powers effortless transitions between words spoken close and tender to laments crowed loud and raw. “The Lost Decade” is, at heart, American Roots Rock. It’s the story of becoming one’s own man.

Conrad Shiner is a regular guy—who’s aware that most folks don’t spend ten years writing songs at night and working in an office by day. And that tension—between the bare desire to make meaning and the nauseating suspicion that you’re being narcissistic and absurd—is the brave and tender devil that makes this album simultaneously unsettling and familiar.

From the opening line of “Present Day,” in which, borrowing a line spoken by the drifter Jake in Southern writer Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Shiner sings, “I got the Gospel in me, and I need to tell someone,” this regular guy goes out on a limb and dangles his heart off the end. Drawn in by his clean melodies, poppy undercurrents, and roots rock drive, you can’t help but take him up on his dare: go ahead and let yourself be shamelessly wistful, too.

And what a ride he’ll take you on. The album is one long invitation: to empathize with the “I” in Shiner’s songs and to see yourself in it. From the first track, “Present Day,” where he refers to the “decade’s desire” that’s led him here, to the second, “I Was Too Young,” where he lays out his mistakes, saying, “I didn’t know better, and I’m not the only one,” Shiner digs into what it means to be human, caught between daily regrets tinged with humor and laughs laced with longing. And always, the music is there, not just behind the lyrics, but wrapped around it, sometimes overturning it, with its light rhythms, playfulness. Shiner indulges, boyishly, during “I Was Too Young,” in the proverbial rock-and-roller’s shout, “One, two, three, four!” and reveals the joy you can feel even in the midst of recognizing where you’ve done wrong. The joy of awareness, clarity, of being able to move forward.

And in the world of The Lost Decade, there is always a second chance. In “The Other Side,” Shiner employs harmonies and a subtle, nostalgic twang to convey what it feels like to be brave: “All our fears are left on the ground as we reach for the other side … I’ll be there with open eyes on the other side.” And you sense, as he sings about the “woman he loves” that she’s a person as much as she is the music, the chance even to talk out loud at all, to exist the world. And there’s room in that for the listener, for everyone.