Pretty Mama

Leah Shaw: “Pretty Mama”

Like many others, North Carolina-born multi-instrumentalist Leah Shaw had her style shaped by her mother. In childhood, Shaw received plenty of maternal encouragement to learn adopt music as a language, picking up piano, bassoon, percussion, and clarinet all by age sixteen. Impressive as that was, when Shaw wasn’t playing in church, memorizing classical music, or perusing her mother’s record collection of Carole King, The Beatles, and Paul Simon, she was pining to become a singer.

Cut to last Friday, when Shaw (now based out of Brooklyn) released her debut full-length Play Beautifully, a phrase taken from her mother, who’d just succumbed to a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s. Play Beautifully is a gorgeous document of loss and love, inspired by Shaw’s time as her mother’s caregiver during the final year of her life, composed on piano, guitar, and vocals, and backed with electronic and orchestral elements. Needless to say, Play Beautifully is best experienced in its entirety, and to give you an idea of how impactful this moving collection of originals is, just listen to the album closer, “Pretty Mama”.