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HE’S SO GLAD TO BE THERE

Sharif emerges from breakup phase with new outlook, music

Sharif emerges from breakup phase with new outlook, music
Sharif.jpg

In the span of two consecutive projects, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Sharif went from chronicling a somber, serious chapter in his life (the 2008 album Kisses and Lies) to documenting his more positive, I’m-glad-to-be-back-in-the-dating-game phase (his upcoming five-song EP, Almost There).

So, if the 2011 Sharif could travel back in time, what words of advice would he share with his ’08 self?

” ‘Hey, Sharif: Sad songs are OK here and there, but nobody wants to be sad all the time,’ ” he says. ” ‘Try writing some pissed-off songs, or start dating again and write about all of your crushes.’ ”

With Almost There, Sharif says he wasn’t concerned about whether he’d wandered too far afield, either lyrically or musically, from past efforts.

“I just try to write about what’s happening in my life, and what I’m feeling at the time,” he says. “If it turns into a country song, cool. A pop song, great.

“Lots of artists I really respect have done the same: Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Ray Charles, Jeff Lynne,” Sharif adds. “I feel if the song is honest and true, it will resonate in any form.”

Almost There (due Sept. 6) also features a cover of The Velvet Underground‘s “Femme Fatale,” plus a version of The Beatles‘ “Honey Pie” as a bonus sixth song. The EP, which is noticeably more straightforward pop than the alt-country-flavored Kisses and Lies, was recorded during the spring with Tim Bradshaw in Manchester, England.

“It was exciting recording overseas, especially in a country with so much music history,” Sharif says. “On one of my days off, I took a trip to visit Nick Drake‘s grave in Tanworth-in-Arden. There was so much culture to absorb and great music around every corner.”

Sharif’s interest in the history and craft of his profession also extends to formal training: He’s been taking online courses through the Berklee College of Music, and in the next few years, he expects to receive a master’s in songwriting.

“Music is one of those subjects where you can never really know everything,” he says. “There’s always another style to study, an exotic scale to learn, alternate voicings to practice, etc. It’s tough to find time to practice as much as I’d like to, so taking online classes puts me into a routine and even lets me go to class while lounging at a Howard Johnson’s in South Carolina.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Sharif on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Aug. 2: The Saint — Asbury Park, N.J.
* Aug. 6: Mudhouse — Crozet, Va.
* Aug. 8: Outer Banks Brewing Station — Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
* Aug. 10: Ragtime — Arlington, Va.