Released a couple of months before Pearl Jam's Vs. broke sales records, Shame is one of the sharper side-project efforts out there, largely because it doesn't seek to clone the parent group. Instead of Gossard, the focus falls on vocalist Shawn Smith, the sweetly voiced, soul-inspired frontman who also achieved notice later for his own group, Satchel, as well as his project with production legend Steve Fisk, Pigeonhed. On his first major effort, Smith shows excellent control, avoiding the dubious theatricality of the likes of Michael Bolton. His astonishing falsettos have won him Prince comparisons, but he's no slavish imitator, with a rich tone and sense of hurt. He handles keyboards for the group as well, and his piano and organ parts quite fine and his performance sense generally spot on. His composition "Screen," especially when it gets to a lovely vocal/piano/bass break towards the end, is a good all-around showcase for his work. As a band, Brad works in traditional but quite effective ways, about as close as the group gets to Pearl Jam in any sense. If anything, in "My Fingers" the group actually has a better anthem than most of what's on Ten, Smith's heavily flanged vocals mixed with a stirring Gossard guitar build and rhythms crunch. The group mostly works in two modes -- uplifting, heavier rockers along the lines of "My Fingers," also including the quietly funky "20th Century" and the great album-finisher "We," and slower, quieter late-night groovers like "Buttercup" and "Good News." If not groundbreakers per se, the four always do a fine job, guaranteeing a pleasant listen through and through. Bassist Jeremy Toback's own vocal turn on the melancholic "Down" isn't bad either, while the squelchy-voiced "Rockstar" is an amusing little one-off, not to mention the weird rant in the album's final seconds.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett