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EP Review: Terry’s Paradise – “Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low Pt. 1”

EP Review: Terry’s Paradise – “Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low Pt. 1”

Terry’s Paradise is a place out of time, vibing comfortably between the highs and lows of a small eternity. The new project, headed by singer/songwriter Sam Barber, just released its first EP, Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low Pt. 1, the first of a pair of EP’s recorded last year by Barber, along with indie veteran Karl Blau. The EP’s title gestures toward the inspiration Terry’s Paradise takes from classic 60’s vocal groups records, employing the layered backup vocals and love-song tropes that date back to the 60’s, but recontextualizing them in the traditions of indie rock to create something Barber has fittingly dubbed “postmodern doo-wop”.

In retrospect it seems obvious that Portland would be the place to produce such a mash-up. Listening to Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low Pt. 1, it’s a bit surprising that nobody else has coined the term “postmodern doo-wop” since what Terry’s Paradise is doing with the sound seems only logical, combining playfully wistful pining of ’50s and ’60s vocal groups with the more existential loneliness of contemporary indie rock.

The four-track EP is short but sweet, and the tracks range between the two poles of influence, with the first single, “I Told You The Full Moon Makes Sense” taking the most from doo-wop, and “One For The Highs” sounding more straight-ahead indie, with “Daffodils” and “Mary” falling somewhere in between. 

From a production standpoint, the album shines in its simplicity, relying on tight arrangements and cleanly layered harmonies to build the foundation over which Barber’s voice sits comfortably, showcasing his earnest poetics.
Thematically, Shoobeedoo High, Shoobeedoo Low Pt. 1 deals first and foremost with loves current and past, but beyond that old veneer lies a more meditative layer, questioning the purpose and validity of the artist’s life: “Count your blessings, one by one/ and dump your troubles on the page/ you’ll feel much better once you’re done/ though your thoughts are much the same,” sings Barber on “Daffodils”, reflecting a lesson in the cathartic experience of writing. “It’s funny/ to be a maker of things,” he muses on “Mary”, seemingly more content in the absurdity of it all. “One For The Highs” attempts to draw it all together in a sweeping reminiscence of times past. “It’s our unwritten story,” sings Barber, gazing off toward a not-so-distant future.

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Photo by Bailey Rob