Andrew Shepard – front man of the rising folk-rock band Lo Talker – is no stranger to the music scene. Before starting the Lo Talker project, the Georgia-based songwriter headed Roadkill Ghost Choir, a popular indie rock band. During his eight years with Roadkill Ghost Choir, Shepard performed at countless music festivals. He penned some incredible songs. He performed on Late Night with David Letterman. But though this work was well-received by the public, the framework of Roadkill Ghost Choir proved too constraining for Shepard. With his new project, Lo Talker, Shepard unleashes smart, compelling folk-rock unburdened by expectations. The band’s December release, “Automatic Love” showcases the passion, layers, and liberation of Shepard’s new era.
Predict a natural disaster/My end of days/Like a daydream
“Automatic Love” is a bright, gleaming track. Its soundscape is deceptively sunny, framed in cheerful piano and energetic drums. There’s a self-awareness to the production that creates a nearly cinematic effect; the opening fifteen seconds layer in the instruments using unhurried, strategic timing that drops us into Lo Talker’s world. And Lo Talker’s world? It’s a hell of a place. Thrumming, auburn, psychedelic. So close your eyes and settle in. There’s a lot to unpack here.
Burned a bouquet of aster/To ward away/A Funny feeling
The track’s warm, bouncy sonic feel is instantly engaging. But what makes the tone even more intriguing is how it contrasts the lyrical message. Separated from the music, the lyrics are pretty dark. They depict a troubled relationship where the narrator is starved for love from an unhealthy partner. Check out the lyrics above – did you know aster was burned in medieval Europe to frighten away serpents? And we all know that today, “snakes” are shorthand for toxic, manipulative people. The juxtaposition of these doomed lyrics and the heel-clicking soundscape creates a compelling message. It speaks to the ways in which we wear costumes over our unhappiness – how we lie to ourselves and to others in the name of holding onto things that are bad for us.
Turn your gaze/And kiss me blindly/Keep me starved for attention
The central contradiction of the song is also explored visually in the music video for “Automatic Love.” Directed by Alec Stanley, this video features a clown lip-syncing the song, wearing a cowboy hat and doing goofy dance moves. The clown is thrown into various shades of light, rotating between a trembling spotlight, a dark red cast, and hazy pink. This performance is a self-aware, biting contribution to the song’s central contradiction – and it certainly contributes to the themes of performative happiness.
Entertain my pity party/When you wake/Cut me clean
Lo Talker’s “Automatic Love” isn’t just an enjoyable listen. It’s sharp, clever, and deceptive. Shepard continues to break through the music scene with an innovative passion – and if “Automatic Love” is any sign, Lo Talker has big things coming.