The Sha La Das - Love in the Wind (Dunham/Daptone Records)

Add Date: 09/18
FCC: Clean
Formats: College & Modern Rock Specialty

Artist Info: Daptone Records imprint Dunham Records announced Love In The Wind, the debut album from the Sha La Das featuring harmonic sensibilities rooted in doo wop, blues and soul. The album—out September 21—was truly a family affair within both the Daptone and Schalda family. Produced by Thomas Brenneck, Love In The Wind features a number of the players that have helped define the Daptone Sound including members of The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band. And, at the heart of the record, there are the four Schaldas: three talented brothers and the father who taught his boys group harmonies on the stoop of their Staten Island home growing up. The atmospheric guitar strum of “Open My Eyes” kicks off the 11-song set.

The band features the four Schaldas: father Bill and sons Will aka Swivs (keyboards for Charles Bradley And His Extraordinaires), Paul (guitar & vocals for Paul And The Tall Trees, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires) and Carmine. The guys had come into the studio in Brooklyn to record background vocals on Charles Bradley’s Victim of Love when Dunham / Daptone producer and musician Thomas Brenneck first heard the close harmonies of the Sha La Das together. There’s something special when a family can meld voices in close harmony: The Everly Brothers had it, the Beach Boys had it, the Schaldas have it. Brenneck knew he had to get it on tape and had a driving passion to record with them.

Brenneck collaborated with Bill Schalda to write the album, which wasn’t a stretch for Bill: he’d been second tenor when still a teen in Brooklyn vocal group The Montereys in the 1960s, who would play venues from neighborhood bars to the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens (their Blast Records 45, Face in the Crowd/Step Right Up, on which Bill sang lead, sells for $500 these days). Bill eventually put his musical career on hold to raise his family, but made sure to teach his sons what he knew, with eldest son Will noting: “He would bring us out on the stoop on Staten Island and he would teach us each parts of say, the Sesame Street theme song. We were his backing group very early on and that was a lot of fun for us growing up.”

“Bill is the genuine article, just like Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, he came directly from the source,” says Brenneck. For the album, he adds: “I wanted to take the Sha La Das outside of the doo wop genre… To take the whole vocabulary of doo wop harmony and reapply it to soul, so you get super soulful harmonies along the lines of The Manhattans and The Moments.”

The eleven songs on the debut are each a tender-voiced delight delivered with absolute conviction combined with musicians that are the modern purveyors of soul including Brenneck, Homer Steinweiss, Dave Guy, Leon Michels, Nick Movshon and Victor Axelrod. From the opening atmospheric guitar strum of Open My Eyes via a walk along the Coney Island boardwalk catching the last glimpse of sunlight at dusk of Carnival to the sublime crescendo of harmonies of the winsome Love in the Wind, each song evokes a deeply personal yet universal yearning that none of us can escape.

Quite simply, every song yields magic.