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Fond Recollections of a Romanticized Youth

Londoner Shawn Lee reminisces about his hometown in Kansas.
Londoner Shawn Lee reminisces about his hometown in Kansas.

Leaving home, particularly a small town, can feel like getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden — and the more idyllic the memories are, the harder it is to re-create those memories upon returning home. The loss of something familiar and innocent resonates in Shawn Lee's "Peculiar Times," a soulful lament for a lost and romanticized youth.

Lee's opulent arrangement conjures autumnal splendor as he reminisces about his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Portraying himself as a small-town Midwestern boy living in the big city — he currently resides in London — Lee croons the puzzling line, "By the time I hear the sound of the silence / I might as well forget this musical violence," subtly suggesting the clamor of a bustling metropolis and the need for solitude.

Amidst all the swirling strings, reverberating vocal harmonies, gentle guitars and dusty rhythmic shuffle, Lee temporarily gets caught in vaguely optimistic reverie as he sings, "I wonder if I'll ever feel this way again." But his sentiments turn pragmatic quickly, expressing uncertainty before he wails, "I know I can't go back / Say I try to hold back from the bittersweet."

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

John Murph
John Murph writes about music and culture and works as a web producer for BETJazz.com. He also contributes regularly to The Washington Post Express, JazzTimes, Down Beat, and JazzWise magazines.