“[She] has one of those lovely, water pure voices that can transfix you, whether she is trilling out an ethereal folk melody or getting to the gutsy pith of a blues song.” – The Aquarium Drunkard
Joan Shelly is not a confessional songwriter. The Louisville, KY, native sings less of her life and more of her place: of landscapes and watercourses; of flora and fauna; of seasons changing and years departing and the ineluctable attempt of humans to make some small sense of all—or, at best, some—of it. She draws inspiration from traditional and traditionally-minded performers from her native Kentucky, as well as those from Ireland, Scotland, and England. Since the release of her fifth album, Over and Even (2015), Shelley has crossed the country and toured Europe several times as a headlining artist. She released her tenth album, The Spur, in 2022.