Record Review: Tom Shinness’s “Escape, Volume 2”

by Dave Carew

Anyone who has seen Tom Shinness play live in Nashville understands he is one of the city’s great undiscovered treasures. A virtuoso on guitar, harp-guitar, mandolin, and other stringed instruments, Shinness explores the sonic landscape of everything from New Age to Beatles-played-as-jazz to myriad realms in between. It is his special gift to weave music that transports the listener to a kind of sonic dreamland.

Just as dreams are the mind-soul’s form of escape to an ethereal state, this album—aptly entitled Escape, Vol. 2—explores similar mystic ground. Through the force of Shinness’s haunting artistry and his personal, experimental vision as a songwriter, we experience music that feels like a dream—hypnotic, ethereal, transporting.

On several tracks, most notably “Widespread Picnic,” “Progressive Awakening” and “Fountains of Toi,” the inspiration of nature—its joy, its darkness, its mystery, its rhythms—is profoundly evident here. It’s as if Shinness has captured a human-musical alternative to the music of a running brook or the lonely, undulating sound of wind through trees.

All of it adds up to a unique, comforting, relaxing sonic journey. And that was Tom Shinness’s intent. “Much of [this album] was created during a very difficult season in my life, out of a quest to bring personal comfort,” he writes in the liner notes. As with many other fine pieces of art, the comfort brought to the artist has been brought to the listener as well.

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David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at and Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.


Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew



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