Aaron Shadwell’s highly energetic live show and confessional anthems reveal a man with a troubled and painful past, his upbeat-rock arrangements grooving in garish contrast to lyrics that darkly illustrate injustice, isolation, and heartache. The music is a metaphor for the incongruity Shadwell, like many of his listeners, faces on a daily basis: the hell-bent determination to seem “okay” when everything is not. As Shadwell walks this turbulent line between the happy and the pained, exposing a dissonance central to the human condition, storms of visceral anger escape his controlled performance and color his vocals with traces of torment and truth. These glimpses into Shadwell’s humanity remind listeners that our controlled facades are illusions - cages of our own making that prevent us from professing our own truth and claiming our complete humanity. Shadwell, playing the part of a wounded healer, admits his own desire to feign optimism, his honesty reminding us that we are all in cages of our own making - and are not as alone as we may think.