Atlanta outfit The Shadowboxers have an admitted love for the harmonies and soul of 70s oddities-turned-superstars the Bee Gees, even covering their 1977 classic “More Than A Woman” last year. Their newest single “Running Down My Life” treads similar soil, but in an homage more akin to the Gibb brothers’ accessibly strange folk ballads of the 60s than the rollicking disco showstoppers of their height.
The Shadowboxers are no strangers to the spotlight, having spent time under the mentorship of latter-day hitmaker Justin Timberlake, but where Timberlake’s sensibilities can often lean bombastic, the treasure of “Running Down My Life” is in the Shadowboxers’ commitment to reserved tension, their harmonies achingly delivered over keys that would feel as at home in a mid-catalogue Wings crooner as they do here. The song takes its time, making use of ample negative space between the meshing vocals in its first section, giving way only to the sound of a rattling tonal pulse deep in the background before the keys enter the room.
Songs of such patient structuring are often hard to find in the streamlined approach to songwriting in which the 2021 music industry operates, where production standby’s of Adele’s greater hits still hang over the dynamics of songs coming out years later (no offense to Adele, it’s the nature of industry to cling on to what works). But here, for five minutes or so, the Shadowboxers beckon us to spend some time in a different room, which, while sparse, has everything it needs to make one feel right at home.
“Running Down My Life” is out now and streaming everywhere. Don’t miss it.
Reviewed by Bobby Guard