Shawn Alpay learned his first instrument at age ten. He chose the cello because it wasn't too big and it wasn't too small, and that suited him fine. He played in orchestras throughout high school and college, but departed the classical world soon after to pursue the potential of writing songs in one's own voice.

For several years, Alpay led a large orchestral rock outfit called The Definite Articles. They recorded their only full-length at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco.  The group disbanded, but Alpay hung around the studio immersing himself in the craft of audio engineering. He soon rose to the position of house engineer and producer there, and his own creative output drifted off.

 Then his mom unexpectedly passed, and the sharpness of those emotions got him to push through his self-doubt and to start writing again.  The stage name of Completions serves as a continuing reminder that revision can serve too much like a shield; it's more important to finish an imperfect creation than to let it die on the vine. With that in mind, Alpay once again hunkered down at Tiny Telephone to record.

 

 

Completions, the self-titled EP, was released on October 9th, 2015.  While the material touches on several personal stories and specific experiences, it also speaks broadly of empathy, the shared experience that binds us all together. On Completions, six original songs are accompanied by a Joni Mitchell cover. Sorting through his mom's things, Alpay found a handwritten collection of lyrics and chords from Blue. He crafted "A Case Of You" into something of a goodbye to her.

As a band of one, Alpay sings over a plucked cello onstage, invoking the idiom of quiet and thoughtful projects like Jose Gonzalez, Andrew Bird, and Sufjan Stevens. In addition to pursuing his own project, Alpay is a cellist in several others, including matt pond PA, How To Dress Well, and Emily Jane White. He is still house engineer and producer at Tiny Telephone.

Completions Cover.jpg

COMPLETIONS

 
 

The Calls Were Coming From Inside the House

There was a bursting out from a house I know well
But I’m a garden of ears and I rushed inside with eyes closed
But after 15 years, the frame could not sustain
That which I had done the utmost to contain

Do I leave a career's array to flame despite the age?
Do I stay, as if I alone could quell the murky blaze?

I smash the windows to throw some keepsakes on the lawn
Outside, the sirens speak plans of how to tamp the trouble
That we watch and embrace at the borders of roofs, but ultimately let rage
Even though there are still things I could slip in and save

Can it be that we choose unhealth in spite of age?
Clarity isn't sand enough to quell the murky blaze
When I speed to the calls that push the largest sound
Gravity isn't quite the force enough to keep it down

After all the rains we spray, the clock remains to defend
When the iron hands array the moment, then they descend
After all, the rains array to call a man to defend
Once the iron hands display the moment, then they descend

I Don’t Call

Your strength could not take leave
To take a tack on flights and family
When I pushed back east, I thought of you
And when I clutched the dust, I thought of you
And realized

I don't know why
We turn to work or drug or worry to fight
The glittered remains of parents passing
I don't know why
My tongue is held at times of trebled need
But know that I'm the obverse side of your thrown coin
I don't call because I can't say love

I thought to find her could better find me
So with eyes on harvest, I collected seeds
Of aunts, addiction stories, foster parents, embraces
I fetched a lot of these
And yet still

I don't know why
She turned to work or drug or worry to fight
The glittered remains of family trying
I don't know why
Her tongue was held at times of trebled need
But know I'm yet the obverse side of your flown coin
I will call, I almost can say

Oh, there will come a day
Where I will move aside the fitful vine
And I will show you what I try

That there will come a day
Where I will show you how I turned the dirt
And I will show you how she lies

Oh, some day
Well, I will lift a tongue into the phone
And I will tell you

I don't know why
I turn to work or drug or worry to fight
The glittered remains of family trying
I don't know why
My tongue is held at times of trebled need
But know I'm yet the observe side of your own coin

I don't call because I can't say
I will call, I almost can say
I'll call before I can say love

Word Balloons

Strings of my design inertly touch air
A dance required
As the teeth of grey deploy as bad news
Silence throws a call to armor what you know
A worry grown
Readied up for guns that only flash inside

I can't see what you want me to
If you don't lash nerve to word balloons that desire sky
But that is fine
I know my red well of recycled joy
Can be harbor to a dark refrain, bold and underlined
But that is fine
That is fine

I put on my shirt and move to wash my face
Trust recoils
Am I leaving for the night or more?
Simple faults draw constant drafts that would not blow
A worry grown
If we could disable guns flashed inside

They won't flee in a week or two
As a fabric cloud of word balloons that obscure the sky
Ranging wide
Raising sighed beliefs stills the jittered mind
As a long procedure that in time every knife will find
But that is fine
That is fine

Trust will always dream
To trump anxiety
And all is fine, as long as it's real

And if you unbar
What you actually are
Then all is fine, as long as it's real

I can't be what you want me to
If you don't lash nerve to word balloons that desire sky
But that is fine
I know my red well of recycled joy
Is a harbor to a dark refrain, bold and underlined
But that is fine
That is fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Quiet Down

You wrote me when you made him
And rung me when he died
Readied words that lack sense
A brief briefing and a silence
Then your throat awoke
And I mostly held a useless tongue as you spoke

In concentric circles
And swung your head dry
Through the bad reception
And I cried when you cried

When I found you, the shock had spread
Like an ash to field with floodlights dead
When you're willing, I'll be a battery pack
And a mirror that can throw the beam back

As a light reminder
Though the dark is long
You're among the living
And you must go on

We are made to be known, but given shields
To parry that which can destroy calm

A dark and almost fun dance of ink on flags
On fields we all slip by, roaming quiet to quiet

I don't understand what death is anymore than you do
But I've felt it, so I feel you

You, in all concentric ways, will hopefully see
This soon as one worry down
As one quiet down

Combs

I was shocked at first words
As they breached the fence built for them
As I first admitted the fleeting sounds
Could compromise many more

I've assembled most things
To display without blood
Edits drawn from a template tall
That no one calls for

I can't abide by the sound it delays
Combs pulled as pride
Adding yet two walls that stand inside all
One to keep, one to find

I can't abide by the sound it abates
Combs pulled as pride
Weaving worser walls that stand inside all
One to keep one defined

A Case of You

Just before our love got lost you said
"I am as constant as a northern star"
And I said "Constantly in the darkness?
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar"

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Minnesota
Oh Minnesota
With your face sketched on it twice

Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
"Go to her, stay with her if you can
But be prepared to bleed"

Completions

By the time you were of age, an unkept sound was in you
When you hitched a ride two thousand miles west, it came too
So you sought the healing pass of chemicals
And you swore the family you would make
Would never be hers

By the time I came of age, the unkept sound had laid plans
And when your figure sparkled out, I did default to understand
How your medication was the fault of years of harm
How the distance was an answer to a parent's storm

But if anything, I try too hard to know just why you are
And yes, any day, I'll end what cycles pass through
I hope so

Do I lie awake like you and dwell on courses unrun?
Or decamp from small alarms that I will do as was done
Knowing how completions are an antidote to fear
And how all that sing correct in me are time delays
That you steer

Through an inner din I can't reply to brewing tall noise
And yes, any day, I'll end what cycles pass through
I hope so

At the end of the day
I'm really just a 15 year old boy
Who wishes that you
Could call him in
Through the wall
Through the high wall
Through the very high wall
Through the very broad wall
And make him tea
And listen
Listen
Listen