Artists You Should Know: Shana Cleveland Offers Ode To California On Ethereal New Album “Manzanita”

shana cleveland
Shana Cleveland by Kristin Cofer

Based now in rural California, the music of Shana Cleveland finds inspiration in the mercurial and subtly-haunting world in which Manzanita — the evergreen tree native to the state from which her latest album gets its name — grows. There’s a good chance you’re familiar with some iterations of her music already in the form of Los Angeles rock outfit La Luz. But unlike the heady surf and garage meldings that occur within the music of that project, the solo permutations of Cleveland’s music are driven solely by an ethereal layering of acoustic instrumentals and poetic lyricism.

Shana Cleveland is currently on tour with two dates slated for Southern California, including a stop at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown on May 13 and the Lodge Room in Los Angeles on May 15.


Please note: This post may contain affiliate links.

Cleveland says that Manzanita is a “supernatural love album set in the California wilderness,” and across its wondrously otherworldly soundscapes that description is emphatically true. Spacious and melodically Johnny Goss and Abbey Blackwell supply gloaming bass; Olie Eshlema lays down pedal steel magic; Will Sprott tarries away on keyboards, dulcimer, glockenspiel, harpsichord, and synthesizers. The result is a record that enigmatically recreates via its lush and sparse arrangements the very Californian landscape within which Cleveland created the record.

From her lilting finger-picking to the spookily droning synths that eerily mirror the natural acoustics of the outside world, as on the album’s opening track “A Ghost.” Amidst the twinkling sway of “Mystic Mine,” she wanders dustily through the twilight drawn endlessly towards the country and the solitary freedom found in such liminal spaces. Elsewhere she revels in the splendid scenes found therein: “Quick Winter Sun” captures the dually terrifying and awe-inspiring effects of such isolation, while “Walking Through Morning Dew” radiates with the wonder of savoring all the overlooked sensory experiences that surround us.


Manzanita is a record that begets more and more careful listens, one that you can drift in and out of because every track seems to invite a variety of ways to lose yourself. Whether it’s in the murky twangs and beguiling tones that echo from its tracks or the wonderment of Cleveland’s verse. Every listen finds a new means of latching onto you and gripping you. Luckily, fans of her solo work have plenty of music to dive into afterward as well. There’s her 2019 record Night of the Worm Moon, a collection of songs that are perhaps more melodically rotund and lush but still retain all the quiet poetics that make Cleveland’s music so enrapturing. She also released another album Oh Man, Cover the Ground under the moniker Shana Cleveland & the Sandcastles that’s also well worth a listen.

artist to watch in 2023

See Shana Cleveland at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown on May 13 and the Lodge Room in Los Angeles on May 15.

Visit Shana Cleveland on their website and Instagram to stay updated on new releases and tour announcements.

Shana Cleveland tour
3/10 Oakland, CA @ Bandcamp # SOLD OUT
3/14 – SXSW – Austin, TX @ Central Presbyterian Church – 10:00pm
3/16 – SXSW – Austin, TX @ Mohawk – 10:20pm
3/17 – SXSW – Austin, TX @ KMFA Event Space – 12:00pm
4/18 Detroit, MI @ Third Man Records
4/19 Toronto, ON @ The Drake Underground
4/21 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
4/22 Brooklyn, NY @ Sultan Room
4/23 Washington, DC @ Pie Shop
4/24 Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA
4/25 Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit Lodge
4/26 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
4/27 Chicago, IL @ Old Town School of Folk Music
4/28 Milwaukee, WI @ The Back Room *
4/29 Evanston, IL @ SPACE *
4/30 Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi *
5/01 Oberlin, OH @ Dionysus Disco *
5/02 Columbus, OH @ The Basement *
5/11 Fresno, CA @ Fulton 55 +5/12 Santa Barbara, CA @ SOhO +
5/13 Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s +
5/15 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room +
5/16 San Luis Obispo, CA @ SLO Brew +
5/17 Petaluma, CA @ The Phoenix Theater +
5/18 Big Sur, CA @ Henry Miller Library +

# w/ Spacemoth
* w/ Destroyer
+ w/ Shannon & The Clams

Words: Steven Ward

Listen to Manzanita the new album from Shana Cleveland below!

Best Summer Music Festival in Southern California
submit your new song
influential black women femalesingers