Cleveland singer-songwriter Trevor Stout initially got his start in music playing open mic nights before forming the indie band shelter pup. In 2020, the band released two singles entitled “(It’s) Your Funeral” and “Ghosts in the Graveyard” – thought-provoking tracks which tackle serious subject matter of idealized isolation and mortality. Shelter pup has now released Pack Your Bags, a five-track EP that’s accompanied by a short film. These visuals aid in communicating the overall message of the collective songs: “live life to the fullest and live wholly in the moment.”
Shelter pup’s previous works possess a calmly serene, emo sound, filled with introspective lyricism. However, this new material signifies the band’s growth and maturity, featuring a raw acoustic sound, catchy hooks, and contemplative lyrics. The band’s fervent passion for their craft shimmers and glistens as brilliantly as ever in this new collection.
Stout gave a statement to BSP about the process of creating this EP. He shared his favorite song from the collection and even a fun fact about one of the songs:
“These songs are close to my heart & are the truest representation of a few things I’ve learned or come to terms with during the first few years out on my own as an independent human. Being wholly in the moment in order to live, learn, and grow. A living time capsule of growth & love in its different forms.
Pack Your Bags is meant to have a message of difficult, but positive change. I finished and scrapped songs for this thing like six times over the course of two and a half years until finally settling with these ones. They feel the most honest, lyrically & sonically, while trying to decide
what direction to take this project. It feels more matured and like a more focused vibe of the most recent two songs that were released last year. This entire thing is three years in the making and I am so so excited to have it out into the world. Every facet of this release fills my heart with joy.
My favorite song from this has got to be ‘Flower Bones.’ It was the first song of this bunch that I had written. I didn't even write it thinking it would be a part of the EP. The idea for it popped into my head one night to make a smooth croon kinda song & I just went with it. I was gonna keep it just as a fun song that I did for myself as a measure of my musical growth, but ended up feeling really confident about it & connected with it so much that I couldn't imagine keeping it hidden. Slide guitar is one of my weaknesses. It makes me swoon every time.
Fun fact – one of my favorite shows is Cowboy Bebop, so I did a little nod to that in the last chorus lyrics of "Overcast" as well as some scenes throughout the short film.
It's also completely coincidental that this is being released the same day as the live action Netflix show. I made the release date for this months ago. How crazy is that??”
The accompanying Pack Your Bags short film is a multi-piece music video that connects as a cohesive unit; the film starkly contrasts the heavier topics that are addressed lyrically throughout the tracks. The visuals are a looping cycle of the ‘end of summer’ vibes and being around close friends.
While these songs all hold significant meaning to Stout, each track potentially possesses different meanings to different people through their own individual lens. The singer-songwriter took time to break down the EP track-by-track:
"Overcast" talks about depression & the self sabotage that accompanies it. Confronting that fear while fully knowing that it's something that'll never go away & may or may not become more manageable with time.
"Hey, Friend" is about when someone you were once very close with kind of fades out of your life without catalyst or reason, but the natural growing apart & the internalized rejection followed by acceptance that comes with that experience. Cheering them on from a distance and still holding them in a special place in your heart.
"A New Way to Breathe" touches a little bit again on depression, but with a clearer mind and less urgency. The self sabotage and doubt in wanting to create a better reality for myself by identifying detrimental thought patterns, then pushing past those old behaviors through manifestation and proper coping mechanisms.
"Sunbleached" speaks of true platonic love shared with a friend who is dealing with their own struggles. Understanding that they don't always want instant solutions given to their problems, but sometimes just a shoulder to lean on while they learn along the way. Having that open communication with the ability to be honest with each other about those kinds of things.
"Flower Bones" is about healthy romantic love that comes from wanting to lift each other up. Thriving on the confidence that is cultivated through independence, respect, unending honesty, and communication. Loving to see the other person happy doing whatever they're passionate about. Free of jealousy and accepting every inch.
Stout had a few special acknowledgements he wanted to make regarding the wonderful individuals who helped him bring this ambitious project to life:
“I'm thankful to Dan & Geno of In Bloom Productions for filming this. They worked incredibly hard. Words fail to explain how proud I am of them. It took almost 6 months between filming & editing. They absolutely killed it. They brought this vision to life and blew past my expectations of what I thought this was going to become. They always have a way of taking ideas and making them flourish.
Big shout out to my close friend Steve Perrino for always making magic happen in the studio with recording, mixing, and producing. Making the songs sound the best they possibly can and never cutting any corners.
Last, but not least, I am so grateful for Tori, Zak, and Avery. They took time out of their lives to help make a dream I had come true. They are my pals & I love them bunches. I'm so glad they could be a part of this & it's so sappy, but I will always watch this with a full heart. It truly is a
time capsule for us outside of any meaning that I have attached to the film with the songs & with "shelter pup,” They are wonderful humans and I continue to cherish my time with them.”
Pack Your Bags Tracklisting:
02 Hey, Friend
03 A New Way To Breathe
05 Flower Bones
Check out the Pack Your Bags short film here:
Connect with shelter pup. on their social media platforms:
Review by: Bri Rodriguez