Joan Shelley: The Spur (No Quarter) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 27th, 2022  

Joan Shelley

The Spur

No Quarter

Aug 18, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Like some other albums written and recorded during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joan Shelley’s The Spur has a very compelling backstory. The songs were written in the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020 and recorded in spring 2021 when Shelley was seven months pregnant with her and husband/collaborator’s Nathan Salsburg’s first child. The album was recorded at a farm/studio complex in rural Kentucky by Zak Riles and feature contributions from Bill Callahan, Meg Baird, Spencer Tweedy, and others.

Even without knowing all of that, however, this is an album (her ninth overall including two self-released ones and fifth on her longtime label No Quarter) from a singer/songwriter at the top of her game. Hushed, soft, vulnerable-sounding, and moving vocals sway over Salsburg’s guitar and beautiful string arrangements from producer James Elkington at times (like on the track “When the Light is Dying”) giving this a feel not dissimilar from some of Joe Boyd’s production work for Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, and even Nick Drake’s string-laden Bryter Layter. By contrast, “Fawn” feels like a stripped-down take on mid ’70s Fleetwood Mac. This album is like a healing balm for our troubled world and goes down well with morning coffee or tea. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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