El Diablo singers shine

Shirk and Hanowell deliver songs of loss and hope

Black boots and songs of heartache paired up with thick-rimmed glasses and optimistic love tunes Aug. 6 at El Diablo Coffee Co. in Upper Queen Anne .
Vashon Island infiltrated the colorful café with singer-songwriters Allison Shirk and Julia Hanowell. Rather than doing the standard opening act and headliner line-up, the two musicians decided to switch back and forth throughout the evening.
Shirk, originally from Texas, started her solo career with her 2000 release "Reason to Believe," a departure from her punk rock band in Honolulu, Hawaii. After moving to Vashon in 2001 Shirk played in several folk and alternative country bands such as The Shirks and American Standard.
Shirk's voice ranged throughout the evening from sounding sultry and reminiscent of folk star Jewel to a more Patty Griffin vibe. Her songs tended to favor the more unhappy endings of love, yet Shirk would still manage to smile between verses. Her slight southern accent gave an authenticity to her more country-esque songs.
While Shirk has been writing music for some time now, Hanowell is only a sophomore in high school. She has been uploading acoustic covers on her YouTube account, Youtube.com/julia930, most of which are footage from the open mic at her school.
Opening up her first set, Hanowell came out with a soulful and slow rendition of "She Will Be Loved," turning the pop power ballad into a thoughtful moment accented by acoustic guitar. Her songs contrasted Shirk's with lyrics mostly hopeful about love and relationships. Hanowell has a powerful voice that has a lot of potential and it would be great to see her experiment with more vocal styles in the future.
For locals looking for a peaceful night to chat with friends or maybe looking for soothing background music while they work on their laptops, these two women created the ideal atmosphere.[[In-content Ad]]