A Voice from the Wilderness: Sean Rowe’s The Salesman and The Shark

Although I tend not to post on the weekend because I’m usually not sitting idly in front of a computer and hope folks are themselves as far away from their devices as possible, occasionally you feel compelled to share a beautiful discovery. This is just that sort of situation.

Sean Rowe – The Salesman and the Shark

“I want to feel the way that song makes me feel all the time.” – a friend

If I were a musician or artist, I cannot imagine a response to my work more fulfilling and rewarding than my friend’s response upon first hearing Sean Rowe‘s The Salesman and the Shark.  I wholeheartedly concur with her assessment.  Unbeknownst to me before clicking on NPR’s First Listen preview of his new record out on Anti Records in September, Sean’s work has a powerfully moving, timeless and transcendental quality. Irrespective of the lyrics, the musical components of this record, with its simplicity, real instrumentation and gritty character, speak truth and understanding. Part folk and part country, The Salesman navigates between the dour, existential character of singer-songwriter terrain with a healthy dose of rousing upbeat numbers that evoke the communal sharing of campfires or barroom sing-a-longs.

And his voice… wow. I don’t think I can fully express how beautifully arresting it is. The first time I listened to the record I had to stop what I was doing just to appreciate and take in the depth of experience and emotion drenching off each note. Probably the closest (popular music) approximation of his style and sound is the folk-soul of Ray LaMontagne but with a bigger, brassier, bursting voice. (For the Whiskey drinkers, Sean is a Single Malt to Ray’s Blended Scotch.) At other moments Sean has moments where I hear a young Tom Waits (but with less scratch), the mystical era Van Morrison (circa Astral Weeks), a mature Eddie Vedder, or Matt Beringer (of the National). In essence, deep, dark, impassioned singers and material that tend to overwhelm and consume.  It’s the perfect music with which to share your Saturday/Sunday afternoon of reflection or relaxation.

What are you waiting for? Check out the entirety of Sean Rowe’s The Salesman and the Shark here. (Note: Updated Spotify Album Link.)

For none Spotify users go here to get a sample via Sean Rowe’s website.

Favorite tracks:  “Signs”  and “Joe’s Cult”.

(If you like what you hear, pre-order Sean’s record via the Anti website here.) (Also, to my friends, I promise to stop hassling you about listening to this album (for) now.)

Lavender Diamond – “I Don’t Recall”

Continuing on the folk-inspired streak I’ve been on of late, Lavender Diamond (the band fronted by Becky Stark whose duet with John C. Reilly, I posted earlier this week) has a new song that is absolutely gorgeous.

Check out “I Don’t Recall” courtesy of Southern California’s stellar KCRW here.

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