Talley Summerlin, former lead singer of the Fayetteville-based, modern rock band BE, has released his first solo material since the group dissolved a decade ago. The three-song, digital EP, Shake the Gates, is currently available for free online through his site, www.talleysummerlin.com, through the month of August.
Over the course of 13 years and six independent releases with BE, critics described Summerlin’s lyrics and voice as intelligent but passionate, introspective but worldly, melancholy but hopeful. His solo recordings build on these qualities, emerging as both deeply personal and politically attuned protest songs for the twenty-first century.
Production, mixing and overdubs were completed in Fayetteville by his brother and former band mate, Mark Summerlin, guitarist, backing vocalist and music director for Grammy Award-winning, international pop star Seal. Brother Paul, also currently touring with Seal, added backing vocals and keyboards to the EP as well.
Basic tracks were recorded and produced by Andy Sharp at Scharf-Sharp Farms in Austin, Texas.
Sharp’s previous credits include engineering and production assistance for Sheryl Crow, Spoon and Blue October.
The drumming of Austin’s Chris Searles — formerly with Shawn Colvin and Ian Moore, now on tour with Alejandro Escovedo — is a solid, steady highlight of each track.
The title track, “Shake the Gates,” was inspired by Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking, 1992 experiment on media overload, documented in his book “The Age of Missing Information.” Thematically, “Queen’s Drone” is a nod to the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” if sung by a medieval tower prisoner — or a modern high-rise cubicle worker.
The closing track, “Wow,” serves as both a call-to-action for peaceful resistance and a plea for help towards believing that nonviolent collaboration can actually forge an original, better path for human society.
Summerlin currently lives in Madison, N.J., and will perform select dates through 2012 in the Northeast.