About Sean Rowe
On the song “Night,” from Sean Rowe’s forthcoming ANTIdebut, Magic, the singer turns his rich, unnerving baritone to a moment of childhood innocence. Back then, he muses, you could fall “like a floating leaf,” and the earth would “look up at you and smile.” Rowe’s deep, magical voice is nothing if not wise and experienced; he knows full well that after the innocence comes the fall. This ability to conjure dueling emotions – the elation of childhood versus the bruising of real life – marks the arrival of a skilled lyricist and songwriter. “Night,” a conversation between an ailing father and son, and “Wet,” written from the perspective of a boy watching his mother go through hell, wrap tales of troubled childhoods in the deep protective warmth of Rowe’s voice. The voice and plaintive melodies comfort the listener, just as Rowe himself sought comfort in two constants throughout his nomadic, latchkey boyhood: nature and music.
“It didn’t really matter what I was listening to,” he says, “I would just listen to whatever I could find around the house, whether it was the Beach Boys or REO Speedwagon.” Getting lost in music was his survival instinct, a sort of “meditation,” as Rowe refers to it. In the kitchen, his mother would have to fight the melodies in his head for attention. “I’d just be in the corner, humming, making up songs,” he says, adding with a laugh, “I was a weird kid.” But his mother was used to a house full of melody. “Everyone on my mother’s side of the family played or sang, mostly big band era, the classics, but folk, too,” he says. “And my uncle was always giving me harmonicas, which I would sell for candy.”
For Rowe, an avid naturalist, his love for the wilderness dates back as far as he can remember—back to when he first fixated on the Native American images on his bed sheets as a little boy. He fed this fascination with trips to natural history museums with his aunt. “I would just go get lost in there,” he remembers. “I studied everything about Native American life and customs that I could.” In 2007 Rowe spent 24-days virtually alone in the woods of Cherry Valley, NY on a solo survival quest carrying little more then the clothes on his back and a pocket knife. “It was probably the most powerful experience of my life!”
Magic was recorded in the small upstate town of Troy, New York, in a studio above the space where Sean’s grandfather once ran an Italian restaurant. The recording process, as he describes it, was intimate and incredibly specific. Brushes of fingertips on strings, hushed breaths, even the darkness of the studio seeps its way into the record, enhancing its live, trembling feel. “I wanted to create an abyss, something to take you far away, a dark but familiar space for people to get lost in,” he explains.
Rowe’s honest and haunting songwriting have already earned comparisons to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks phase, for his abstract lyric phrasing, and the way he crafts an experience of emotion, rather than telling a linear tale. Most powerfully he brings to mind Leonard Cohen, with songwriting which tends to build into powerful, yet vulnerable, cathedral-like monuments of sound. The song “American,” with its yearning strings and earnest piano bring chills and a catch in your throat. Magic is Sean Rowe’s homage to what he believes in, to what he finds magical in the world. The themes of love, innocence, sex and nature prevail in its heartfelt, crafted songs. On the ambient, deeply resonant closer “The Long Haul,” Rowe’s voice crackles with life. “And I never hit the spring so hard/ a newborn song on an old guitar/ and I know what it means to be alive,” he sings. And like the most evocative, important works of art, Magic begs the question of its listener: What makes you feel alive?
Eric Krasno, Duane Trucks, Todd Sheaffer and Jason Crosby are among the additions to the lineup for the upcoming “There’s A Reward: A Celebration Of The Life & Music Of Neal Casal” benefit concert in honor of the late Neal Casal.
Bob Weir & Wolf Bros began a swing of tour dates in California on Wednesday night at Humphrey’s Concerts By The Bay in San Diego.
Jason Isbell revealed the openers for his upcoming run at The Ryman and series of solo acoustic shows with support from Kevin Morby.
Vida Blue featuring Phish keyboardist Page McConnell, Dead & Company bassist Oteil Burbridge, funky Meters drummer Russell Batiste and Shakira guitarist Adam Zimmon kicked off a short run at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. and mixed classics, debuts and covers.
Dead & Company are offering live streams of all six upcoming Fall Fun Run concerts.