While SHEL’s music may be hard to define within the boundaries of conventional genres, it definitely wouldn’t be classified as “heavy metal,” although their latest song covers a huge hit by the heavy metal band Metallica. SHEL has taken their classic track, “Enter Sandman,” and created a haunting ballad reminiscent of a Tori Amos cover. Or that’s the closest approximation one may come up with, and that’s meant in the very best way.
Apparently, Nerdist agreed, as the site premiered the video, saying SHEL had “created the platonic ideal of one of the metal group’s classic numbers. Paring the song down to softly delivered vocals and spare acoustic instrumentation, the version of the track is as disconcerting as it is beautiful… The audio-visual subtlety of this track makes for an extremely unique cover that hits a totally different chord of terror than the original.”
Yeah, what Nerdist said.
SHEL is an acronym for the first initial of each sister’s name in the group — Sarah, Hannah, Eva, and Liza Holbrook — and if they seem to have a different perspective when approaching the song, that mirrors a rather unconventional perspective on life based on a unique childhood. The quartet was raised in an abandoned trailer park their family restored and turned into a farm in the foothills of Fort Collins, Colorado, according to their website. Each found an instrument to learn: Sarah on violin, Hannah on piano, Eva on mandolin, and Liza on drums and beatboxing.
Sarah tried going to college but quickly realized her family ties and love of music were a much stronger call and is her destiny.
“We’ve always made our living playing music. I dropped out of two different colleges, before it finally sank in that I was supposed to be playing music with my sisters full time. We signed with Republic Records early on, but escaped the ‘artist protection program’ and we’re prouder than ever to be waving our indie banner.”
Or, as they like to put it collectively, they are “four sisters, traveling the world, tellin’ tales, and sharing a dream.”
Speaking of dreams, how did SHEL get the inspiration to cover “Enter Sandman?” Their father knew how obsessed Eva was with the book Peter Pan, and while he was on a road trip through Nebraska, the song came on the radio. The lyrics about “Never, Never Land” rung a bell, and he suggested the girls cover the song. Needless to say, given her obsession with Peter Pan, Eva was more than enthusiastic about taking up his suggestion.
“I looked it up at once and fell in love with the lyrics. Putting a cover song on a SHEL album has become a tradition for the band, and when it came time to choose a song for Just Crazy Enough, ‘Enter Sandman’ seemed like a wonderful fit. Everything about the lyrics would suit a subtle and more eerie vibe. So I said a prayer to the gods of rock that I wouldn’t be struck dead, or mysteriously electrocuted in the studio for whispering the lyrics to a Metallica song, or for not including an electric guitar in the arrangement. I’ve survived to say that I am truly blown away by the poetry of the song, both lyrically and musically, and that we hope you enjoy our interpretation of it.”
The song is featured on their latest release, Just Crazy Enough, which was produced by the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. The album also features “Rooftop,”another video release from this second full-length album. In conjunction with the album’s release, the sisters of SHEL have issued a video challenge dubbed the “Just Crazy Enough Challenge,” where they ask fans to create a “capsule” wardrobe only using pieces they already have or that were purchased from thrift stores or an ethically-sourced company.
Catch SHEL live at one of the dates below.
4/19/16 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge (w/ Larkin Poe)
4/23/16 – Nashville, TN – Earth Day Festival – Centennial Park
4/29/16 – Lyons, CO – Wildflower Pavilion
4/30/16 – Colorado Springs, CO – Stargazer’s Theatre
5/05/16 – Hesston, KS – Dyck Arboretum
5/06/16 – Kansas City, MO – Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest
5/07/16 – Columbia, MO – The Bridge
5/12/16 – Asheville, NC – Isis Lounge
5/13/16 – Greenville, SC – Artisphere Festival Main Stage
5/17/16 – Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Cafe
5/27/16 – 5/30/16 – Telluride, CO – Mountainfilm Festival
6/06/16 – Lexington, KY – Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour @ the Lyric Theater
6/08/16 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
6/09/16 – Cleveland, OH – Music Box Super Club
6/10/16 – Greensburg, PA – St. Clair Park Amphitheater
6/11/16 – Wyomissing, PA – Berks Festival
6/12/16 – Earlville, NY – Earlville Opera House
6/14/16 – Exton, PA – Eagleview Concerts in the Square
6/15/16 – Wilmington, DE – World Cafe @ The Queen World Cafe Live
7/07/16 – Louisville, CO – Louisville Summer Concert Series
7/13/16 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House
7/14/16 – Davenport, IA – Red Stone Room @ River Music Experience
7/15/16 – Marshfield, WI – Vox Concert Series @ Wildwood Station
7/16/16 – Grand Rapids, MN – KAXE Radio Amphitheatre
7/17/16 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
7/29/16 – Hiram, ME – Ossipee Music Fest
7/30/16 – Hiram, ME – Ossipee Music Fest
8/05/16 – Loveland, CO – Arise Music Festival
[Photo by Anthony Scarlati/Courtesy of SHEL/Missing Piece Group]