Album Review: Shabason & Krgovich – At Scaramouche

[Idée Fixe; 2022]

Shabason & Krgovich make great lullabies. Discussing “I Don’t See the Moon” during a livestreamed Shabason, Krgovich & Harris performance last year, Joseph Shabason said “My son loves that song… I’ve had at least five or six other parents say that their toddlers request that song on repeat”. Indeed, listening to “I Don’t See the Moon” or “Friday Afternoon”, both from their 2020 album (also with Chris Harris) Philadelphia, feels like floating away on a cloud. And that album’s title track, a cover of the Neil Young song from Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia, remains a pandemic-era favorite of mine. Driving down South Street with Philadelphia’s City Hall towering above, the song seemed to slow down time.

Fans of Philadelphia will find more to enjoy on At Scaramouche, a record named after a snazzy French restaurant in Toronto (cheekily enough, the album’s cover depicts a Taco Bell). “Soli” opens At Scaramouche by mining more of that somnolent territory. As with Philadelphia, Shabason’s talents as an arranger are on display, with a tight group of musicians providing the layered atmosphere for Nick Krgovich’s vocals to gently glide over.

Shabason & Krgovich certainly make comfort music, but At Scaramouche isn’t a total re-hash of Philadelphia. There are new decisions here that change the pace of their established style. “I Am So Happy with My Little Dog” is a propulsive standout, featuring a frenetic guitar solo from Thom Gill. “Soli II” practically bursts with energy in comparison to “Soli”, and “In the Middle of the Day” applies a trip-hop-like drum track, though its lyrics and vocals remain drowsy.

Though At Scaramouche successfully builds on a unique sound, its simple lyrics border on the inane and it is a bit front-loaded. The cocktail lounge sound of “Templeton Field” wears thin quickly, and “Drinks At Scaramouche” is a quiet, meandering end to an album that otherwise shows some strong rhythmic development for this musical pairing. Still, Shabason & Krgovich once again succeed in the soft-pop arena with more for listeners to enjoy, be they toddlers or otherwise.