Sean Rowe – New Lore
Anti – 2017
A heavily bewhiskered singer-songwriter and wilderness survival instructor from New York, Sean Rowe recently had one of his songs, To Leave Something Behind, featured in Ben Affleck’s The Accountant. Whether you heard that or not, you really should seek him out, New Lore, his fifth album, is a fine showcase for his throaty, rumbling baritone and moodily affecting songs of loneliness and longing, augmented throughout by piano and strings.
Recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio, it opens with a terrific number, the simply picked Gas Station Rose where the line “we can’t have a garden while we’re still on the road, there’s only room on the dash for a gas station rose” succinctly encapsulating a strained relationship lived on the road. That tug between following a career and personal responsibilities is revisited on the folksy, almost funereal, slow march I Can’t Make A Living From Holding You.
Reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson on the gruffly sung slow waltzing It’s Not Hard To Say Goodbye Sometimes (“living with you was the gum on my shoe”), by way of vocal contrast The Salmon sees him unleashing his falsetto on a touching recollection of his childhood while the loose-limbed Newton’s Cradle shifts the general mood for a percussive rhythmically funky groove, and R&B influence also heard on the piano-led gospel Promise of You with its choir backing vocals.
Elsewhere he reaches into the gravelly depths for the bluesy You Keep Coming Alive, a number that builds in muscle and pace as it goes, while, again with gospel tones, The Vine is the most expansive arrangement with electric guitar, strings and punchy drums. It’s a distinct contrast to the album’s last number, The Very First Snow that sees Rowe in an achingly reflective mood (“I’m gonna soak these sheets in tears”) with just guitar and harmonica about the loss of someone close to Christmas, a magnificent end to an album that infuses itself into your heart and soul.
Sean Rowe plays at St Pancras Old Church, London on 26 May 2017. For full tour dates visit http://www.seanrowe.net/tour
Out Now via Anti
Photo Credit: Matt Dayak (via Anti-)