Shane Tutmarc Finds His Voice in the Land of Faulkner

A songwriter heads south to search for his soul.

"The South has definitely been calling me," says Shane Tutmarc, who first visited the region last June. From the opening notes of his latest album, Shouting at a Silent Sky, it's obvious the land of Elvis and Faulkner has had a profound impact on the Seattle-born singer-songwriter. With his pencil-thin mustache and bowler hat, Tutmarc looks like he could be the star of a 1930s European film. But when he opens his mouth to sing, out comes a brass twang halfway between Dwight Yoakam and a young Steve Earle.Like all the best Americana, Tutmarc's songs are about bruised hearts and spiritual unrest—he's a man in search of something he might never find. On "Never Turnin' Back," he sings "I've been lonesome all my life/What's a few more nights?", an organ shedding sweet musical tears behind him. Later on the album he sings "I've been forgetting/To look inside/I just might find/A star to lead me home tonight."Tutmarc admits that his previous records were concerned with genres and aesthetics. Shouting, however, was written as he was "exploring his soul" on last year's Southern tour. To properly record this batch of songs, he needed a group of soulful players. Fresh from his Southern junket, he called his Easy Street Records co-worker Mark Pickerel (one of Seattle's musical treasures), who in turn suggested local veteran Johnny Sangster as producer, who in turn suggested they recruit Sangster's brother Jim as bassist and Ty Bailie on piano."Any different style I threw their way, they threw back at me way better than I could have imagined," says Tutmarc. "These guys know country, they know garage rock, they can get dirty with the blues, and they can play with soul."That mix of genres is something Tutmarc has been toying with for the past couple of years on albums Hey Lazarus! and I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About in My Song. On his latest disc, however, these disparate genres form a cohesive whole, which is to say that—at long last—it sounds like Tutmarc has finally found his

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