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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Clever Hopes evolves with New Kind of Familiar

Clever Hopes' sophomore album is available now on all streaming platforms.

When Andrew Shaver decided to branch out into music, he knew from the start that the project would be bigger than just himself.

This album is about hope. – Andrew Shaver on Cleaver Hopes’ sophomore album, New Kind of Familiar

“If I had gone into a studio on my own to record, it would pale in comparison with what came out with all the other people involved,” he says. “Besides, there is a dude in Nashville who’s writing tunes and playing guitar who goes by the same name as me, so I decided to take on a moniker to quell some of the potential confusion.”

Thus, Shaver’s Clever Hopes was born, a name taken from A.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939. “In the poem, he talks about sitting in a dive bar in New York City right before the Second World War, and he talks about how all of his clever hopes of the previous decade had expired,” says Shaver. “And I thought, there it is, Clever Hopes.”

Now, as the creative force behind the band Clever Hopes, Shaver and his band have released their sophomore album, New Kind of Familiar.

The record marks a significant shift from Clever Hopes’ debut album, Artefact, which chronicled the raw emotions following Shaver’s tumultuous breakup at the time. With New Kind of Familiar, Shaver embraces themes of transition, hope, and rebirth as he begins his journey into a new life in Dartmouth with his partner and the recent arrival of their son, whom they not coincidentally named Auden. It also brought him closer to his family.

“There was a lot of looking back on Artefact,” says Shaver. “New Kind of Familiar is far more forward-looking; there are songs on which I’ve been able to celebrate the place I’m in now, a place of stability and clarity.”

New Kind of Familiar is now available on all streaming platforms.
New Kind of Familiar is now available on all streaming platforms.

Recorded live off the floor at Joel Plaskett’s Fang Recording in Dartmouth, just down the street from the Shaver family home, New Kind of Familiar features several musicians from the band’s debut album, including vocalist Eva Foote and guitarist Joe Grass. Horn player Kev Foran once again “put the horns down” from his studio in Dublin. Producer and friend Matt Barber helped put it all together.

Afie Jurvanen (guitars), Kyle Cunjak (bass), Joshua van Tassel (drums), and Steve O’Connor (keyboards) join this core group on the new album.

Serving as a microcosm for the album’s overarching themes, Shaver describes the title track as a meditation on embracing new beginnings while acknowledging the lessons learned from the past. This sentiment resonates throughout the record. “This album is about hope,” he says.

Another standout track, Whore’s Racket, offers a glimpse into Shaver’s work as an actor in a tribute to the late actor Brian Dennehy, a longtime friend and collaborator. The song was woven from snippets of conversations and quotes between Shaver and Dennehy, reflecting on the veteran actor’s life and achievements.

“It’s a love song to Brian Dennehy, who died four years ago, April 15th,” explains Shaver. “He and I worked together on a lot of theatre over the years, and before he passed away, I asked him if he was proud of his life and career, and he said, ‘Well, kid, it’s a whore’s racket but I think I made a mark.”

Shaver’s theatrical background plays a crucial role in his songwriting process. He doesn’t write to craft a meticulously planned album. Instead, he allows themes to emerge organically as the collection of songs takes shape. The magic truly happens when the band gathers in the studio. Shaver describes it as a moment of collective exploration where the songs come alive, allowing the music to evolve naturally. “I’m not gunning for a specific sound,” he says. “It’s whatever the songs inspire on that day.”

For fans eager to experience New Kind of Familiar live, Clever Hopes and guests will celebrate the album’s release with a show at The Sanctuary in Dartmouth on June 22.

Clever Hopes’ New Kind of Familiar is available now on all streaming platforms. You can learn more about Clever Hopes and their music at cleverhopes.com and follow the band on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Bandcamp.

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