There is sometimes a level of earnestness which is hard to imagine other people getting away with. Ali pulls it off because she’s also hilarious, and raunchy, and self-deprecating, and equally prone to tangents about radical politics and the latest parkour video she got obsessed with on YouTube.
There’s acoustic guitar; there are poetic and earnest turns of phrase about melancholy, joyful, and romantic feelings. But the underlying current is pure punk defiance — a melodic middle finger of sorts to anyone who might suggest that confessional songwriting means you have to be soft, to anyone made uncomfortable by rough-hewn, sacrificial-sounding love ballads, to an indie music landscape that offers little room for artists who don’t buy into ironic or detached as the road to cool.
A Place to Remember the Dead mixes heart-felt longing, unrequited love, and social commentary, all with a hint of mortality. Even the seemingly light-hearted tracks are rich with humour and emotion. And that weird chill you get from Shareef Ali can only mean one thing: It’s working.
Ali is a master of charm.
East Bay Express
Warm irreverence…fantastic wordplay…beautifully vulnerable.
Caustic and often darkly funny lyrics take center stage, and they are worth listening to.
He comes across as his own creation, blending old-fashioned instrumentation and modern lyrics in a way that sets him apart from most young folk artists.
His lyrics are sometimes earnest, sometimes funny, sometimes downright poetic…Ali embraces life in all its strange, conflicting moments: pain and triumph, heartbreak and renewal, anger and resignation.
Honest, endearing, well-arranged, and interesting – with a sound built to showcase Ali’s heartfelt songwriting but with enough dynamics and edge to keep even a casual listener engaged.
MidByNorthwest.com, Seattle, WA
With their plaintive harmonies and barroom vibe, they’re reminiscent of a highly textured (and refreshingly non-cloying) Bright Eyes, or more rollicking version of The Rentals.
Peter-Astrid Kane, MSN