Singer/Songwriter Lee Shup Releases “Rise Up”

You can consider San Francisco’s Lee Shupp to be one of the keepers of the blue flame. He has a natural affinity for blues that announces itself on many of Rise Up’s eight tracks. However, Shupp does not restrict himself. Strands of R&B, funk, rock, and even country music present themselves throughout the album. The Texas-born vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist synthesize these threads into a cohesive musical experience that’s personal, yet accessible. We capture one glimpse after another of the man behind the songs and recognize our experiences in his own. 


“Here There Be Dragons” will resonate with countless listeners. He steeps this first track in ribald swampy blues without ever going overboard. Pairing it with a lyric full of self-exploration is an audacious move that pays off for the songwriting. His compelling vocal delivery occupies prime real estate within the mix and forces us to focus on his message. It will connect with many. “Ride Tall in the Saddle” shares some of the same bluesy pedigree. It is no accident that Shupp leads off the album with two straight numbers owing so much to that aforementioned blue flame. He tempers those influences throughout the second track, but they are critical to the song’s impact. 

“Papa Patron” is a light-hearted shift of gears. Superb musicianship sets it apart, like the remaining seven songs, but this affectionate paean to a popular tequila does not aim for the same kind of impact as the other performance. However, it is a crowd-pleaser in the making, and the jazz overtones are a delight. “One Step Ahead of the Sandman” has a winning vocal melody that will stick with you. First-class playing is again a staple of the performance, and the up-tempo pacing of the piece carries listeners away for a brisk ride. The overall vocal arrangement makes it one of the album’s foremost outings. 

Melodic strengths are a hallmark of “Elemental”. It has a much rockier character than many of the other songs. However, Shupp never abandons the focus he has brought to the album’s vocal arrangements and the double-tracked singing during the tune further elevates the number. The diversity of his guitar playing should wow you by this point and stand out as one of the album’s chief strengths. 

The mid-tempo stomp of “Stay” never risks plodding. A layered arrangement buttresses the song’s strong suits, and the vocals riff in a melodic manner that listeners will respond to. It’s one of Rise Up’s better moments and well worth revisiting. “Safe and Sound” finishes the release with another excellent lyric reinforced by outstanding acoustic guitar. A thoroughly satisfying arrangement gives this closer added distinction. Lee Shupp’s material on Rise Up has an adult tilt that will appeal to a broad swath of listeners. It does so without compromising his musical vision and points towards a bright future. He is a veteran performer and songwriter, but his talents and enthusiasm are far from exhausted. Let’s look forward to more from him in the coming years. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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