Children are a surprisingly underutilized source of inspiration for music. Think for a second — how many songs or bands can you think of that are inspired by or for children? (For the sake of discussion, material directly made for kids shows doesn’t count.) Your tally will likely be low, even if a few examples pop up here and there — Stevie Wonder wrote “Isn't Shune Lovely?” about his daughter Aisha; The Get Up Kids’ Matt Pryor used The Terrible Twos to make Indie Rock for his kids; and, most famously, Eric Clapton penned “Tears in Heaven” after the horrific death of his 4-year-old son.
Shivering Timbers, the musical entity masterminded by Akron-based spouses Sarah and Jayson Benn, recently joined this unusual lineage. At first, the project existed solely as an outlet for the couple to write songs for their daughter Suzi (who is around 4 now).
Then, as their story of improbably good fortune goes, they ended up playing at the birthday party of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and the birthday boy dug Timbers so much that he encouraged them to make a record, eventually materializing as last December’s We All Started in the Same Place, which was produced by Auerbach.
“Nursery rhymes” are frequently brought up when referencing Shivering Timbers’ tender Folk and it’s easy to imagine a child digesting their amiable, spare melodies comfortably. That being said, the band (which now also includes Brad Thorla on drums) isn’t toothless. In “Baby Don’t,” Sarah warns, “Baby, don’t play with that plastic bag/If you do, it’s going to make us very sad/It’ll choke you and smother you and make your little face turn blue/Like your eyes.”Seeing as Suzi is bound to grow up sometime, the band wisely hasn’t committed to writing in this style for good. “In my mind, I kind of consider our first album as kind of a concept album,” Benn told The Akron Beacon Journal, “but I think there always will be at least a couple of songs that have childishness to them.”
SHIVERING TIMBERS play the Northside Music Festival Saturday, June 11 with guests THE LIONS RAMPANT, KIM TAYLOR, THE DUKES, POP EMPIRE, SOAPLAND and STATE SONG. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.