The Shins – “It’s Only Life” (Solo Acoustic)

We weren’t quite sure what to expect from the Shins last fall, now that frontman James Mercer is the only remaining original member, but now that there’s a radio-ready single, its tender B-side, and that promising live preview in the mix, I must say things are shaping up nicely for a triumphant return from the beloved Portland outfit. This week, Mercer wore the mantle of Last Shin Standing with class for a string of solo acoustic performances on the radio, reminding us just how well his better known compositions have endured before sharing the bare bones of “Simple Song.” He’s also begun testing out tunes that have yet to be performed in public, including “It’s Only Life,” a brand new cut he debuted for San Diego’s 91X yesterday, sounding perfectly at home among the Shins’ back catalog. The way this guy can pluck out a melody that catches you off guard and hits you in the gut with such precision continues to impress.

Watch the full radio session, which includes takes Port of Morrow’s lead single, the aforementioned tune at the 4:00 mark, “Young Pilgrims,” and “New Slang” below: