Society of Broken Souls is the Folk Noir songwriting duo of multi-instrumentalists Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter. Performing their own brand of American Roots Music, they write unflinching songs for fearless hearts — songs that confront our shared, raw humanity while celebrating the beautiful mosaic of the human experience. Fiddle, drums, keyboard, and acoustic and electric guitars, in intricately woven and varied arrangements, provide an expansive backdrop for lyrics that showcase weathered characters, tough topics, and quiet beauty. With this wide palette, and by taking turns singing lead and harmony, the pair paint a vast emotional landscape, ranging from the rebellious and jubilant to the introspective and heartfelt.
While Dennis and Lauryn are deeply rooted in the time-honored tradition of storytelling, their songs move seamlessly from the darkly fictitious to the profoundly personal — meaning they come by their name honestly. With not just a few scars and likely more years behind them than ahead, they each have stared down their own personal demons in order to serve the art form that has never let go of its hold on them, in spite of their best efforts to walk away.
It has been through this surrendering to music’s place as the one constant throughout their lives, collectively and individually, that the two are discovering true artistic freedom and rekindled joy in the pursuit of their craft. In spite of the conventional wisdom that says to let go of childish dreams and leave the rock and roll lifestyle to the young, they are reinventing themselves and their musical life with a renewed commitment.
The duo began their collaborative effort in Seattle, WA in 2003. For over a decade, Lauryn and Dennis recorded and performed as the primarily acoustic Truckstop Souvenir, recording three albums and a movie soundtrack, as well as touring and performing in 25 states. In spite of this musical history, though, Society of Broken Souls has a distinctly new vision and direction.
Now plugged-in and electrified, dirty guitars share the stage with sweet harmonies, while a dusted-off old snare drum, partnered with a stomp box, drives a heavy, raucous beat or backs up a sultry, jazzy piano. These new explorations, however, don’t mean they don’t remain true to their roots: their quintessential pairing of soulful fiddle and acoustic guitar always finds a place in their sets, creating a truly dynamic terrain upon which to explore their songs.
Seasoned performers with a resolve to sing their truth, Dennis and Lauryn offer a solace that comes from bringing our broken-hearted jewels out of the darkness. By having the courage to look to the cracks in their hearts and the chips on their souls, they have a discovered a redemptive beauty. It drives their art, celebrates all of life, and invites the listener to walk through the fire with them — and to find freedom, strength, and joy on the other side.