SOCIETY of BROKEN SOULS - Electronic Press Kit
Society of Broken Souls, the Folk Noir songwriting duo of multi-instrumentalists Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter, never expected the name of their band to become such a lightning rod. It just seemed a fitting name, one that resonated deeply with each of them, as well as with their most dedicated fans. But a lightning rod it seems to have become.
“There is a growing propensity in our culture to show ever more curated versions of ourselves, where everything is photoshop perfect and everyone is living the dream,” Shapter explains. “But that’s just not real life and it only seems to leave people feeling more isolated. We got tired of the lack of authenticity we saw around us and decided to shine some light on the broken bits, but still have fun while we were doing it.”
Shapter and James know a thing or two about broken souls. While their music is deeply rooted in the time-honored tradition of storytelling, their songs move seamlessly from the darkly fictitious to the profoundly personal — meaning they come by their name honestly. With not just a few scars and more years behind them than ahead, they each have stared down their own personal demons in order to serve the art form that has never let go of its hold on them. Though they tried their hand at the straight life, it never took. “Music is the only thing that makes any sense,” says James. “Nothing else matters.” In their return to music, they are discovering true artistic freedom and rekindled joy in pursuit of their craft.
Called “a songwriting powerhouse” (Ben Kieffer, Iowa Public Radio), the duo performs their own brand of American roots music. While they have their roots as an acoustic duo, their live show has blossomed into an expansive setting for weathered characters, tough topics, and quiet beauty. Fiddle, drums, keyboard, and acoustic and electric guitars, in intricately woven and varied arrangements, create a wide, dynamic palette. As they take turns singing lead and harmony, the pair paints a vast emotional landscape, ranging from the rebellious and jubilant to the introspective and heartfelt.
Midnight and The Pale, the follow up to 2016’s Things Still Left Unsaid, is their second album under the moniker Society of Broken Souls and their fifth collaboration. Released in April, 2018, the new album once again sees James and Shapter writing, arranging, producing, and engineering the 10 song collection, as well as performing all the parts. The album title offers a glimpse into the lyric content of the songs: the interplay of light and dark, and the beauty that results when they are allowed to walk comfortably side by side. Midnight and The Pale solidifies their relationship with the muse, as they sink ever more deeply into unique musical backdrops upon which to tell their stories.
So in spite of the conventional wisdom that says to let go of childish dreams and leave the rock and roll lifestyle to the young, James and Shapter are reinventing their lives with a renewed vigor. As part of that renewed commitment, the duo purchased a 22 year old RV and retrofitted it to hold the myriad instruments they bring on stage. They hit the road in 2017, covering over 22,000 miles and performing nearly 100 shows in 18 states. They are continuing with n even heavier coast-to-coast touring schedule is 2018, beginning in March.
Above all else, James and Shapter sing their truth, and in doing so, offer a solace that comes from bringing the broken-hearted jewels out of the darkness. By having the courage to look to the cracks in their hearts and the chips on their souls, they have discovered a redemptive beauty. It drives their art, celebrates all of life, and invites the listener to walk through the fire with them — and to find freedom, strength, and joy on the other side.
Society of Broken Souls is the songwriting duo of multi-instrumentalists Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter. Performing their own brand of American Roots Music, they write unflinching songs that confront our shared, raw humanity while celebrating the beautiful mosaic of the human experience. Having performed in 25 states from coast to coast over the last decade, their live show features seamless harmony vocals and a wide array of instruments and sounds. From stripped down, bare-bones acoustic arrangements to a denser and edgier electric sound, their songs invite the listener to walk through the fire with them — and to find freedom, strength and courage on the other side.
Society of Broken Souls is the Folk Noir duo of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter. From stripped down, bare-bones acoustic arrangements to a denser and edgier electric sound, their songs confront our shared, raw humanity all while celebrating the beautiful mosaic of the human experience.
The songs of Society of Broken Souls confront our raw humanity while celebrating the beautiful mosaic of the human experience. (126 characters)
Society of Broken Souls’ sonic landscape easily moves from a stripped down acoustic sound to denser and edgier electric arrangements. (133 characters)
(Photo Credits: Liz Brown, Estorie Photography)
What They're Saying
About Midnight and The Pale
"Integrating a bevy of instruments into their music between just the two of them, their take on roots is the type of dusty, darkly, and naturalistic folk that one might inherently associate with the American West. Between their vocals, fiddles, guitars, drums, bass, and keyboards, they have plenty at their disposal to paint a convincingly windswept picture with their sound." ( Jonathan Frahm, Pop Matters)
"Society of Broken Souls’ newest album features the multi-talented Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter with a collection of eclectic sounds woven seamlessly together while the lyrics evoke imagery both sweet and stark. While storytelling is the realm of folk music, the fictions the duo spin are hypnotic and all but begging to be heard." (Kasey Smith, The Celebrity Cafe)
“A dark, folk noir commentary … their particular acoustic/Americana/roots fusion is inimitably sharp ... It is this willingness to explore the utter depths of their subjects that propels “Pretty” to such great heights.” (Mitch Mosk, Atwood Magazine)
"...a dynamic and vast sonic palette that draws the listener in, captivated, and lingers long after the final word is sung and the last note is heard.” (The Daily Country)
"Midnight And The Pale is... jam packed with the wisdom and wonder of this vast and unpredictable journey we all call life ... an intriguing manifesto, one whose reflective lyrics and vibrant melodies will absolutely captivate the senses." (Ken Morton, Highwire Daze)
"Sparse to semi-lush, the whole damn thing positively sparkles ... daring to expose our inner netherworlds, through song and lyric and living, to embrace rather than resist those broken places that confound and haunt us ..." (James Moore, The Iowa Source)
“The performances, both vocal and instrumental, are relaxed and deft. … they give the songs their due and not a bit more. … Midnight and The Pale is restrained and modest, but in the end feels quietly epic.” (Kent Williams, Little Village Magazine)
About Things Still Left Unsaid
"A songwriting powerhouse." (Ben Kieffer, Iowa Public Radio)
"The debut album from Society of Broken Souls (SBS), Things Still Left Unsaid, glows with mature lyrical songwriting, nuanced vocals, and wonderfully subtle instrumentals...their crowning achievement." (Andrew Bargerstock, The Iowa Source)
"Tight, rocking, and heartfelt, Lauryn and Dennis’s new songs really blew me away. They reverberate with a raw authenticity that settles in your soul.” (John Helde, Try This Films)
"A work of art...you have produced a masterpiece." (Chris Johnson, FAIRFest Roots Music Festival)
About earlier projects
“…their voice and instruments — he plays guitars, she doubles on fiddle and guitar — intertwine with an ease that evokes both the showbiz polish of the Everly Brothers and the rustic charm of the Carter clan…” (Kurt B. Reighley, The Stranger, Seattle)
"Make no mistake about it, these two are passionate storytellers and deeply committed songwriters, strong voices both, and it shows in their original material.” (James Moore, The Iowa Source)
“Old-time country with passion and genuine musical talent…Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter share a passion for old-time country music. We’re talking Carter Family, the Louvins and early Everlys. Many of these songs could have been resurrected from the mists of time…pure rural storytelling at its best.” (Alan Cackett, Maverick Magazine, England)
From Performance Venues
"We had the pleasure of having Society of Broken Souls perform as part of our Little White Church Sessions series. Dennis & Lauryn's performance was one of the best I've heard and numerous audience members agreed. Their harmonies and musicality were further enhanced by the great rapport they held with those in attendance." (Michael Schumacher, Little White Church Sessions, Yankton, SD)
"Uniquely crafted, Society of Broken Souls is out to capture, enthrall, and enhance with their collection of original and heartfelt songs. Like the mesmerizing roll of the tumbleweeds, you’ll be hooked before you know it, and you’ll never quite know what hit you." (George Schricker, Wild Rose Moon , Plymouth, IN)
"I opened the Verve 19 years ago and only a small handful of artists have kept me mesmerized for 4 hours...Society of Broken Souls is part of that small handful!" (Connie Wrin, The Verve, Terre Haute, IN).
" What a night! Eclectic, creative, bluesy, raw and yet graceful and inspiring. This powerful duo captivated our audience with each lyric, held their attention and sent us all out the door inspired! Mesmerized by the true talent these two brought to our event space was inspiring! Lauryn and Dennis exude creativity and magic in not only their lyrics and songs, but their overall presence. Definitely recommend everyone to partake in the talented gifts they share with the world!" (Stacy Watje, Le Bon Entertainment, Springfield, MN)