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Music Review - `Treasure Map` by Shoebox Letters (dmac)

Shoebox Letters- Treasure Map  (click on image to watch video)

 12 October 2020



Shoebox Letters new EP, Treasure Map, was written and recorded during the Covid-19 crisis, and ‘Treasure Map’ is an apt title for a project tracked during these strange modern days. However, that treasure is neither silver nor gold but is, instead, any sense at all of normalcy. That normal life the true booty, most anyone would pay dearly to obtain. Recorded in Portland, Or, this is a strong, six-track collection of songs.

Primary singer/songwriter, Dennis Winslow, has said the intention behind this latest group project was “to record a more rocking and maybe uplifting EP.” Even so, though, the work kicks off with “Drinking More Without You.” Granted, the song is built upon a twangy, country groove with a fun electric guitar groove. With that said, though, its lyric tells a sad tale. Sure, it’s not dramatically sad, like a George Jones ballad, but it is still about a guy that’s turned to drinking after separating from his girl. The instrumentation may be bright, but the story is still kind of a depressing one. 

The release’s title track is slightly more somber than “Drinking More Without You,” and includes a sweet call-and-response backing vocal chorus. Once again, though, this sonic sweetness only slightly disguises its sorry story. It’s about a guy searching for a home, somewhere he truly belongs. This is no pirate ship expedition. Instead, it’s a guy looking for the answer, the key to a happier, more settled life. It’s all about the usual restlessness of living. Such restlessness is even heightened during these crazy pandemic days. With that said, though, this song is a really lovely track.

One titled “First Step,” kicks off with some really nice slide guitar work. It’s just as sad as what precedes it, because this ‘first step,’ is about a guy hoping for the courage to walk away from a relationship. Whereas we usually think about ‘first steps,’ as making the move toward doing the right thing, in a positive direction, this guy is actually stepping to walk away. Again, this is a hurting moment. “Second Guessing,” another midtempo, meditative track, looks at a relationship from an entirely different angle. In this latter case, it’s about a guy having second thoughts about entering into a new relationship. So, he goes from being unable to leave, to being unable to enter into a new romantic venture. You get the impression this guy – if it’s the same guy in both instances – is indecisive. Well, you can certainly make a strong case for that. The project continues with “Wait and See,” which – you guessed it – describes a situation where the virtue of patience is praised. The EP closes with a slow number called “I’m No Good at Walking Away.” While true for many of us, why would anyone get involved with someone that IS good at walking away. Now that’s a red flag!

Yes, this album is many times musically uplifting, but don’t expect to be joyfully entertained by it. You will, however, be entertained by the craftmanship put into addressing some difficult life and relationship matters songs it contains.


Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh


Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio,, Country Standard Time and 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here


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