“And you can function as someone besides who you are,” John Frusciante sings on his 2004 solo album, “Shadows Collide With People.” Lyrics like this are what make “Shadows” so brilliant. Frusciante subtly shifts conventional binaries and clichés and delivers them with such quiet confidence that his unconventional views almost pass you by. Unlike many other singer-songwriter albums, “Shadows” isn’t a statement on personal torture. Rather, it’s one of disenchanted peace with the idea that nothing is real. On the track “Relief,” Frusciante sings “And all things shoot through me / and all things shoot through you” over a cycle of open guitar chords that never quite resolve but don’t introduce tension either. While it might sound unspectacular on paper, Frusciante’s inventive songwriting tendencies, distinctive guitar playing, and colorful arrangements make it anything but. On the album, Frusciante employs a palette of mellotrons, acoustic guitar, bubbly synths, and Strat tones, making an ethereal chime that echoes the sound on The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul.” The texture is appropriate for the album – bright like the morning sun yet still ominous, “Shadows” is the sound of darkness and awakening. When Frusciante sings “Cause what you need you are,” you realize it all comes from within, without, everywhere, and nowhere.
Howard is a member of
the class of 2017.