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Shane Piasecki’s been thinking a lot about his fans in Australia lately. It’s one of the small town Ohio born and raised, Nashville based singer/songwriter’s biggest hubs, but he’s never had the chance to perform there. Now with the release of Set You Free, his debut label recording on LandStar Entertainment after three popular DIY releases, the tireless, entrepreneurial performer – fronting his backup band, The Cuts - will have a chance to bring his explosive, rootsy blend of R&B, pop, rock, folk and blues Down Under for the first time.
As everyone in Australia and across the U.S. is singing along to the infectious refrain “I love you too much to set you free,” they may think he’s singing a traditional guy/girl song – but there’s something about the connection between a boy and his dog (whose escape from the leash one night while out for a walk was Shane’s inspiration) that makes it both quirkier and more heartfelt than the standard issue love song. “Set You Free” is just one of the 11 tracks on an album that covers such a powerful range of musical and thematic territory that it’s being promoted in its entirety to Triple AAA and Americana radio so that program directors can choose the tracks they think their listeners will love most.
Those who love Shane’s acoustic side will be gravitating towards the soulful reflection “Wings of Wax,” about being so high on life after a gig that he can’t relax; and the lonesome, bluesy and hypnotic “New To Town,” a stark reflection on the loneliness he felt when he first moved to Nashville in 2007. Others may dig the easy rolling, soaring harmonic vibe and the biting wit of “Jackie O” (“You take me back/To greener pastures/Like Jackie Onassis/Without the sunglasses…I wish I would have met you girl in the 50s”); the moody, reverb heavy ballad “Roller Gone”; the raw, high energy horn drenched soul rocker “Feels Alright”; and the infectious, harmonica laced pop/rocker “Good Thing,” which finds Shane promising just that despite only getting an I.O.U. from the one he loves.
Recorded at The Sound Emporium B and The Lab and produced by versatile Nashville producer, performer and band leader Nathan Meckel, Set You Free features performances by two top Nashville session players, bassist Dave Roe (Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakum) and Jerry Roe (k.d. lang, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell), who created the groove on Shane’s previous album Monday Creek (2010). Other top studio cats include keyboardist John Deaderick (Patty Griffin, James Taylor, Dixie Chicks), bassist Steve Mackey, trumpeter Layne Ihde and Maurice “Bow Tie” Farmer.
“While Set You Free reflects my growth as a songwriter over these past few years, it also marks a breakthrough because it’s my first recording to feature me playing lead guitar – something that few artists recording in Nashville do,” says Shane, who plays a Floyd Stratocaster, Fender Strat, Fender Telly and Gretsch hollow body. “I’ve been working towards this style of Americana where I can play the lead guitar in everything for a long time. I like to say that it’s me getting away from John Mayer-land and creating my own stamp via experimenting with another few levels in my guitar playing.
“If I’m working with my acoustic,” he adds, “I’m doing something folky and poppy, but put an electric guitar in my hand and I’m doing blues and rock. I feel that I have paid my dues with my previous DIY indie albums and that Set You Free, which combines the best of all my styles, puts me on the first tier of an exciting new level in my career. It’s inspiring to work with this caliber of world class musicians and I’m becoming more confident that the songs I am writing, while drawing from many inspirations, don’t sound like any other artist.”
Over the past two years since Shane bought his trusty Subaru, the tireless performer estimates that he’s put on over 60,000 miles, routing out of his adopted hometown of Nashville to share his explosive, rootsy blend of R&B, pop, rock, folk and blues with fans throughout the Midwest, South and East Coast and beyond. His 100-150 gigs a year (many solo acoustic, some duo, some electric with a full band) may seem scaled down from his early days coming up in Toledo, Ohio, when he’d play 300 local shows a year, but he’s been busier than ever in the studio since the success of Monday Creek led fellow songwriter Chris Gantry to introduce him to Everett Lowe, who signed Shane to his first publishing deal at Faverett Entertainment.
While his career is in a different kind of overdrive since signing with Faverett and now Landstar Entertainment, Shane – who grew up driving down country roads in his hometown of Liberty Center, Ohio with his father listening to CCR and Eric Clapton – has been building to this level of success for the past ten years. His first indie album in 2004, All For Coffee, earned him a sport as an opener on the Hanson tour at the House of Blues in Cleveland. Local critics took notice after hearing he had sold more albums in a single night than any other band that had ever opened up for the platinum pop trio.
Flushed with confidence, Piasecki headed out to San Diego carrying a suitcase with his books, clothes and guitar. Though he didn’t stay long in California, he soon released a second album You’re Here and I’m A Mess. Two of his singles, “My Two Cents” and “Sweetest Thing,” earned him a growing fan base in Australia and blew up on YouTube, with views and downloads of over one million. All For Coffee would eventually move 10,000 units, reaching number one on the Detroit Music Retail Collective Chart and peaking at number 19 on the National Alliance of Independent Media Stores sales chart.
“All of my life experiences before and since I moved to Nashville have really helped me grow as a songwriter,” Piasecki says. “What’s going on now is that instead of writing songs just about love and heartache, I’m reflecting upon the unique life I am living. To me, songwriting is really about chronicling the world as you see it, and that’s always been the essence of truly American music. I’m following in a storied tradition that starts all the way back with Hank Williams, Sr. in the country world and carries on to this day. At the end of the day, I’m trying to be a good American songwriter.”