Playful expressions, handmade top hats and funky accessories are only part of SHEL’s charm. This all-sister quartet from Fort Collins, Colorado is back on the road, this time promoting their debut album at shows and festivals.
“I want it to be an emotional journey,” Eva Holbrook said about performing, “because my favorite experiences listening to music is when it makes me cry or laugh, or when I can see a story play out in my mind.”
The Holbrook sisters, 18 to 24, picked up instruments when they were kids. “Our incentive was that if we played well enough, we could back up dad on stage,” Eva said. Now, it’s now singer-songwriter Dad who does the backing.
SHEL’s lyrics are stories, often fairytale-like, capturing real and fictitious experiences.
Take “Freckles” — a song about a young girl with a crush on a farm worker. Feelings of frustration, jealousy and eventually compassion are especially heard in the vocals, mandolin, violin, piano and drums. Eva said that it came out of the feeling that “we need love, but we don’t always know the love that we need at that moment.” Its music video was recently featured as MTV’s “Buzzworthy Obsession.”
While the sisters mostly collaborate on songwriting, Eva confessed: “We have a standing joke that I write all the sad songs, and the happy songs are the ones we’ve written together.”
People have approached the Holbrook family dynamic with curiosity and admiration. “For us, that’s been such a natural flow,” Eva said. “Being in business together, I think it has actually helped our family relationship because we all literally rely on each other.” Still, making sure everyone has enough space and time to perform in one household can be a challenge, she shared.
SHEL hopes to continue spreading music without compromising, and “always creating something we’re proud of and that people will love,” Eva said.
“If you’re a performer and artist, you are never entitled to fans. You’re never entitled to people worshipping you. That’s stuff that we think of when we wanna be famous. That’s so shallow.”
“It’s about creating an experience that brings joy into people’s lives.”
“On My Way”
“Wise Old One”