Sounding like the gorgeous-voiced kid sister of Neko Case, Shelley Short treats folk music with a mere fleeting interest, liberally picking and choosing from the storied genre with great care on her third full-length, Water for the Day. The Portland- via-Chicago-via-Portland-via-Los Angeles-via-Portland (not necessarily in that order) singer/songwriter is always searching for a new locale to lay her head. Short's songs aren't travel songs as much as they are relocation ballads. It's more U-Haul tape deck music than lonesome boxcar folk songs.
As she explains, "In Chicago I had lots of time to think and write during the winter months. In Los Angeles I didn't have much time to write because I spent so much time on a bus, or in a car."
Recorded in transit, Water for the Day is a record that celebrates life's uncertainties, and the recording process was no different. "I was moving away from Chicago, so I knew I wouldn't be working with the band. It was sad, but I also tried to look at it as a way for me to try new sounds." She continues, "I was thinking about how songs can slow down and speed up in a natural way, like a heartbeat."
The expansive opener, "Silver & Gold," is about as country as Short will ever get, and while it's not quite a rhinestone boot-stomper from Music City, it is a smoky campfire ballad that could extinguish even the hottest of flames. Meanwhile, "How Grand," with a muffled bass drum thump that sounds like it's coming from another room, is a delicate little number with the soft lyrical delivery of "Somebody said, 'How long you been crying?'/Well I never did, well maybe I did, but I wasn't trying/and I've never felt a heart like yours darling." Short also expands the range of her talents, including the quirky "Single-Minded Hero," the haunting "Sting Along"—in which the raw recording accentuates Short's lonesome howl—and, of course, something every album should have—a pro-pony ballad in "4 Legs & Light."