Sep 30, 2022
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Jason Quigley
Earlier this month, Portland-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and engineer Shawn Alpay shared, I Needed Help, his debut album under the moniker Completions. Alpay got his start as a session and touring cellist, performing with Father John Misty, Whitney, Laura Stevenson, but in recent years he began pursuing his songwriting in earnest, inspired by a central theme: how can we let other people in, especially when we don’t want to?
That question formed the lyrical core of I Needed Help, while Alpay recruited a roster of friends to flesh out the album’s arrangements remotely, expanding the record from simply cello and voice into a series of fully fleshed out indie rock arrangements. The full album is out now, and accompanying the record Alpay has shared a new video for one of the record’s highlights, “Fortified Light,” premiering with Under the Radar.
“Fortified Light” offers one of the more reflective cuts on the album, gently building on understated guitar lines and luminous vocal harmonies, offering moments of empathetic meditation and pastoral beauty. The lyrics similarly explore inward as Alpay examines the long process of self-improvement, and learning to be okay with not being okay一“There is time and space for hard improvement in cagey matters/So trust in the head to tell that place again/You don’t have to grow to prove to me you get to feel okay/You get to feel okay.
“I spent my time living on top of Potrero Hill in San Francisco working too much and drinking too much. During that time, I’d also become addicted to the notion that I could feel better by doing better. I don’t believe it as much as I used to, but I still need frequent reminders that I don’t have to grow to feel okay.”
Check out the track and its accompanying surreal video below. I Needed Help is out everywhere now.