Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) is a fast, up and coming performer from Austin, Texas. The single, “Dearly Departed,” from his junior album, And the War Came, was released back in October 2014. This particular song brought a lot of attention to the one man band, highlighting the energy of his performance and the mixture of old country and rock sound.
“Dearly Departed” kicks off with a percussion sequence mixing clapping, tambourines, the floor tom, and heavy strumming to create a steady rhythm that forms the base of the song. Shakey and Esme Patterson, guest vocalist of the former band Paper Bird, come in with harmonized “ooh”-ing ending with a sigh-like “Well” which brings us into the first chorus. Their voices are compliments to each other, with Esme’s smooth, sweet sound ratcheted by Shakey’s coarseness.
The chorus of this song is the solid realization that a relationship is haunted by the presence of a former partner. “You and I both know” is repeated on end to emphasize that both parties recognize each other’s fault in the failing of the relationship. This concept is true whether the two people be either living or dead, both dead, or both living with the term ‘haunting’ really referring to being unable to forget. Anger and tension grows between them throughout the song as they seek to escape one another.
Esme and Shakey trade lines back and forth in the verses, creating a fun dialogue. This brings some humor into the song and creates an engaged conversation that pulls you in. One of the great banter lines is this one: “And you had to tell your friends that my fangs were fake (S)/I just had to (E).”
The track changes pace near the end when the lyrics take a more serious approach. “Even when one is dead and gone/It still takes two to make a house a home/Well I’m as lonesome as the catacombs/I hear you call my name but no one is there/except a feeling in the air.” A changed version of the chorus follows, with the ghost now being referred to as “you” instead of “me.” It’s debatable what that slight lyric change could mean but I think the major point being made is that even with all of the problems, the two people were still in love.
What’s great about this track is the energy coming from Shakey and Esme. You can hear the passion and drive pouring from their voices, filling “Dearly Departed” with their emotions. The song is highly entertaining and really hard to not sing along with.