Moonlighter – Colin Shamley
It is rather strange that Shamley has only recorded 1 album (‘Born Guilty’ as far as I can tell) as he certainly is a talented dude. There are similarities to John Oakley-Smith (who also released a single album) in that both artists sing about every day life in South Africa and do so in an understated yet quite magical way. The difference between Shamley and Oakley-Smith is that the latter used a lot of piano on his material where Shamley chooses a guitar to underpin his songs.
‘Moonlighting’ is one of the ‘Other Stories’ on the 3rd Ear re-release of the magnificent ‘Born Guilty’ which was released with a load of extra tracks and entitled ‘Born Guily & Other Stories’. It’s a bluesy number that consists of one voice (Shamley’s), one guitar (Shamley’s) and a dimly lit alley atmosphere where the sound echoes, a solitary streetlamp struggles to illuminate the scene full of night characters. Shamley is an observer, watching ‘cops and pimps and queens and whores’ as ‘they hang round the all night arcade’. He takes the lives of these people and squashes them into descriptive lyrics to create the paint of the song which he splashes onto a staccato canvas that his guitar provides.
This is songwriting at its very best. Shamley’s sharp observationsof nightlife are perfectly encapsulated in this song and the sparse soundtrack he sets it to is so good its almost criminal, perhaps that’s why Shamley thought he was born guilty.
Where to find it:
Born Guilty & Other Stories – Colin Shamley (2003) 3rd Ear Music, 3eM Cd 7005