• Review

Celebrating Lydia Shae's New Album, Decade Diaries

Photo Cred: Jared Bowers

Another rainy Friday night in Cincy, another exceptional display of local musicians staking their claim in the scene. It’s impossible to know what the future might hold for any band or musician, anywhere and everywhere, but that will never take away from recognizing their talent, musicianship, and commitment in the present.

The creation of an album - from inception to release - is cause for celebration. The Woodward Theater slowly filled with fans of local musician Lydia Shae, as well as The Laurelys, a powerful folk duo, and Daniel Noel, formerly known as Daniel In Stereo, and his wildly talented band, for what turned into an actual powerhouse set of performances from three vastly different acts.

I watched as the crowd engaged with and tuned into what each act was bringing to the stage. The parents, the friends. The fans and stalwart champions of Cincinnati’s bustling local scene. There was a lot of pride. A lot of excitement. Smiles and nervous energy. The mood was celebratory, and for good reason.


The Laurelys, a Newport, KY folk duo brought to life at the start of the pandemic, performed with an energy I wasn’t anticipating, and I feel like is rarely seen or heard considering their style of music. Folksy, sure. Twangy, yes, that would be the banjo. The harmonies that never stepped on each other. The melodies that certainly referenced more modern songwriting, but never strayed too far from their literal and figurative grassroots. The slightly southern lilt of their delivery. It was all given to the audience with a ferocity that was, frankly, stunning. I admire how in sync they were, the looks of appreciation and admiration while the other was taking the lead, be it vocally or on the banjo. A sincerely beautiful performance that ended up also being a perfect way to kick things off.


Acting as direct support, Daniel Noel took the stage and was kind enough to remind us of his previous moniker, Daniel In Stereo, and what the change in name - staking a claim to who he was and is as an artist - was all about. What followed was one of the most disarmingly subtle displays of musicality I’ve seen in a long time. While he acts as the principal songwriter and lyricist, the appreciation and genuine surprise he showed his band as they wound through their set was super charming. You could tell they were friends, they enjoyed playing together, and that he was excited, happy - and I’ll say lucky - to have them on stage with him. The set was groovy as hell, start to finish. Soulful R&B tinged with rock and indie, it was a dynamic performance that was entertaining and also made the crowd want to shake their collective ass.


The star of the show, however, was musician Lydia Shae, celebrating the release of her debut album, Decade Diaries. A little folksy, a little indie, a little groovy - taking what openers The Laurleys and Daniel Noel brought to the night and toning it down just enough, anchoring it with a commanding vocal performance and refined songwriting. Backed by three talented musicians in their own right, with a special appearance by her own dad and, I’d say, biggest fan, on mandolin, Shae performed a variety of tracks from her album. Energetic, self-assured, and wholly her own, the performance itself was an ideal way to be introduced to her music and acted as a sort of unveiling to the Cincy scene at large that she is very much the real deal.

As I said at the start, there’s no way to know how things will go for any local band or musician. Local scenes can be challenging. Regional and national scenes, infinitely more so. But, look - Cincinnati is quickly becoming something more than it was, more than it has been in a long time. Maybe more than it ever was. The scene is alive in a way that I can’t recall in my almost 30 years of paying attention or being involved. The talent on display last night, at just one of our many incredible venues, by just three of so many more talented bands and musicians, gives me a lot of hope for what’s to come while also letting me just sort of take in the awesomeness of the moment. As a city, we have a lot to celebrate - and a lot more on the way, I’m sure. Last night, though, it was awesome to be able to celebrate with Lydia Shae and so many of her friends, family, and fans. I’m genuinely looking forward to whatever it is that comes next for her.

Lydia Shae "Decade Diaries" Album Release Show

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