|Companion release to debut novel, Cookies & Milk
(published May 24, 2022, by Little Brown)
From his earliest singer-songwriter days to his recent incarnations as a bluesman and author, Shawn Amos says, “I’ve always written about my family.” His music encompasses everything from Americana to classic pop to roadhouse blues, but regardless of style, Shawn’s work consistently reckons with blood kin, and a remarkable, often difficult childhood as the only son of cookie entrepreneur Wally “Famous” Amos, and troubled nightclub singer Shirlee “Shirl-ee May” Ellis. That legacy of love both bitter and sweet informs the ongoing story of a man coming to grips with his racial identity, as well as his place in a broader lineage of struggle, renewal, and redemption through creativity. Over a twenty-five-year musical arc, largely under the radar, listeners have borne witness to this remarkable journey, represented here by tunes recorded in locales as disparate as a West Hollywood apartment, the East Texas hills, a Nashville recording studio, and the Joshua Tree desert.
Throughout Shawn’s musical and personal travels, the Amos blood ties have held fast. After “pulling up the drawbridge” on confessional material to focus on classic blues for his Reverend Shawn Amos shows and albums, Shawn nevertheless couldn’t help but conjure ancestor ghosts, avail himself of descendants’ love, and frame it all in the ultimate American art form. With The Reverend Shawn Amos & the Brotherhood, he achieved his most satisfying music yet, a distinctive synthesis of joyful blues and incisive, hooky songcraft. More than any other mode, Shawn says, “the blues has helped me figure myself out.”
Evidently, all was preparation for his debut semi-autobiographical novel Cookies & Milk, an ode to the strength of family and the power of forgiveness, set to an insistent, life-affirming beat. Crafting that story compelled Shawn to tear down the walls he’d built between his various styles, and betwixt himself and his forebears. Hollywood Blues presents these family-themed selections as a non-chronological album honoring both the roots and the fruits of the Amos tree, created, and sustained down the decades by music from the heart.