Sean Rowe

Sean Rowe — Madman [September 9th, 2014]

USA Flag Sean Rowe — Madman
♦   Podívejme se na vztah s jeho fanoušky a jak reálné to je, opustit kecy a mentalitu hudebního mainstreamu.
♦♦   “Myslím, že je to zacílenější, než cokoliv, co jsem napsal dříve. Pokud poslední dvě alba byly trochu z vesmíru, tohle je pozemské a vedoucí přímo ke zdroji. Je to živé, má to srdeční tep, měřitelný puls.”
♦♦♦   Strávil 24 dnů o samotě v poušti, spoléhal se jen na svůj nůž (a pár nouzových balíčků Ramen), Rowe rovnou říká, aby lidé věděli, že to není o tom porazit přírodu, ale spíše splynout s ní .
♦   Tu samou vášeň pro upřímné spojení s přírodou, má pro svůj vztah s fanoušky.
Album Madman promlouvá k srdci od první skladby. Nekompromisní kvalita jeho textů a jeho hudební styl, jsou vzácné v moři reality show popových hvězd, a zároveň je výjimečné s prstem na tepu doby: je jasné, že je tady něco hlubšího, než to nejlepší, co můžeme vidět v pseudo-Art-TV czech made. 
Location: Troy, Black Dog Studios, Stillwater, NY
Album release: September 9th, 2014
Record Label: Anti, Inc.
Duration:     47:03
01. Madman      3:59
02. Shine My Diamond Ring      4:19
03. Desiree      4:38
04. The Game      3:33
05. The Drive      4:08
06. Spiritual Leather      4:10
07. Done Calling You      3:49
08. The Real Thing      3:42
09. Razor Of Love      3:25
10. My Little Man      4:35
11. Looking For The Master      3:14
12. It Won't Be Long      3:31
2014 Anti, Inc.
Highlight: "Razor Of Love", jedna z několika rodinně-orientovaných písní, je pravděpodobně jeho neucelenější a výrazně dobře napsaná.
♦♦   Připomíná to extázi a intenzitu pozdních 60. let Van Morrisona a ostrou jemnost pozdní éry Johnnyho Cashe". Sean Rowe vytvořil betální prvotinu. Madman je záměrně vzdorovitě jednoduchý. Je to druh hudby v nejčistší podobě a v nejvíce doslovném smyslu: hypnotické rytmy, vřele zkreslené kytary a Roweův neuvěřitelný hlas připomínající dobu, pokud si ji vůbec můžeš představit (pokud ne, vděčíš za to rodičům), kdy hudba a lidé byli výrazně propojenější, hombre.
♦   Sean Rowe, who The Wall Street Journal wrote "recalls the ecstatic intensity of late-'60s Van Morrison and stark subtlety of late-era Johnny Cash" has created a beautifully primal work. Madman is deliberately simple in both arrangement and composition. It is soul music in the purest and most literal sense, hypnotic rhythms, warmly distorted guitars and Rowe's incredible voice recalling a time, real or imagined, when music and people seemed distinctly more connected. Un excellent album! Recommandé.
♦♦   When you see Sean Rowe play live, it’s hard to believe that he’s just one man and his guitar. In the case of Rowe, what you see is most certainly not what you get. Through a time tested mix of acoustic guitar, amps, and some strange accompaniments (a few songs involve a prepared combination of guitar, ballpoint pen, and a train tickets to “fuck up the sound in a good way” as Rowe says.) Somehow he manages to produce the sound of an entire band while on stage. In a feat of musical synchronicity his latest album brings all that personal, one man band mystery to the table with a few surprises.
♦♦♦   Those that have watched Rowe evolve from the lyrical beauty of his debut album, Magic, to the epic string-laden orchestrations on Salesman and the Shark will not be disappointed by the direction the singer songwriter has taken in his third album to be released on Anti-Records, titled “Madman”. There is a dynamic here that spans the spectrum from haunting and sorrowful to playful and urgent. What remains constant, however, is the sense of something coming straight from the soul, and of course, that unforgettable baritone that strikes you like a punch to the gut.
♦   In this record, we feel Rowe settling into his groove. “I think it’s more direct than anything i’ve written before. If the last two records were sort of out in space, this one is more earthbound and to the source. It’s alive, it has a heartbeat, a pulse,” Rowe adds. Indeed, in tracks like “The Drive” — a beautiful, string filled melody about lovers coming home to each other — one can literally hear the heartbeat of the song. In other tracks like “The Real Thing” and “Shine My Diamond Ring” we hear Rowe’s electrified finger picking style come alive in full technicolor glory.
♦♦♦   “I wanted to give the sense on these tracks that i’m digging from the musical well of no-bullshit.”
♦♦♦   Taking the producer wheel for himself this time around, Rowe recorded Spiritual Leather near his hometown at Black Dog Studios in Stillwater, NY. The new album brings Sean back to his roots in not only musical style but also production. While the album is certainly more stripped down than Salesman and the Shark, Rowe enlists a bit of help from old friends and local musicians, including co-producer Troy Pohl, who also worked on Magic. “Troy was the man for this job. Not only do we insult each other regularly and lovingly but ultimately, we both connected on what the sound picture of this record should look like,” says Rowe. The record gives us a little snap shot into Sean’s world, who he is and where he wants to take you. From what is perhaps the most personal song on the record, Madman, Rowe professes, “When the road takes me to the other side of the world/Let a walnut tree replace me/Give my body back to the birds”.
♦♦   Outside of music, Sean’s other lifeline has always been the outdoors. While he spent 24 days alone in the wilderness, relying on just his knife (and a few emergency packs of Ramen), Rowe is quick to let people know that he wasn’t out there to defeat nature, but rather to blend in with it. "There’s this sense that nature is something ‘other’, that it’s apart from us, and it’s not. Even having a word for nature is sort of pushing it away. It’s just our surroundings, it’s everything, it’s all of us. There’s all these shows about surviving in the wild and drinking your own piss while waiting for the rescue planes to come. That’s the Hollywood version. I’m not interested in pushing people to learn how to survive in nature. That can be learned very quickly with common sense. What i’m after is how to live in it and how to thrive with in it. It cannot be found in books or in films because it involves direct experience with the land. But the one great thing is that…it’s free…for now. "
♦♦♦   Rowe brings that same passion for sincere connection from his relationship with nature to his relationship with the fans. He’s recently embarked on a nationwide House Concert tour, hitting up living rooms, barns, art galleries, and any intimate space where he can build his house of fans brick by brick. The venues vary from 6 people to 60, but in each one, Rowe finds an incredible sense of the “something bigger” that we are all chasing. "There is a very organic, raw sense to these house shows, and that’s why I love them. Here you are in this person’s living room, in their space, and it can’t help but be extremely personal. You have to overcome what can sometimes be uncomfortable in order to get to what’s real, and in that way, it’s a lot like making music for me. Doing the house shows is so different from playing clubs. I love the mystery of the “big show” the lights and the whole deal but i also love to hear the personal stories of the fans. That’s the stuff that you don’t get in conventional venues. The proximity effect of the house shows create a different dynamic. There’s some walls that break down when you can bring the show right there, where someone eats their cereal every morning. It’s an odd thing to do and…i love it!"
♦♦♦   Rowe’s unpretentious and genuine third album speaks to the heart from the very first track. The uncompromising quality of his lyrics and his musical style are a rare find in the sea of reality show pop stars, and while it might be difficult to put your finger on what one thing it is that makes this album so very special, it’s clear that there’s something different here, something that lays it all out on the line. Almost two years after the release of his last album, Rowe has pushed us out in the deep end with his latest work . “In the end, I just thought to myself — I wanna give you something that you can’t get anywhere else. I wanna take people right to the center with this.”
By WILL HERMES, August 31, 201411:03 PM ET
♦♦♦   Sean Rowe has been playing a haunted cover of Bruce Springsteen's "The River" on tour this year, usually using only his battered Takamine acoustic guitar, a harmonica and his well-deep, Old Testament baritone voice. It might give an impression — abetted by his impressive beard — that Rowe, a small-town upstate New Yorker, is some Dust Bowl folkie throwback.
♦♦♦   But his albums paint a richer picture. Magic, Rowe's 2010 debut, is full of singer-songwriter balladry with Leonard Cohen echoes, rock 'n' roll outbursts and spooky modern production. Its follow-up, The Salesman and the Shark, adds offbeat junk-shop arrangements that recall labelmate Tom Waits. Madman shows Rowe twinning his styles together with new elements: soul, blues, gospel, R&B. The upshot, surprisingly, is his most coherent record yet.
♦♦♦   If there's a spiritual forebear to Madman, it's Van Morrison, whose best records have woven the above styles (and more) into seamless cloth. Exhibit A: Madman's title track, with its handclaps, brass, bright melody, and burly "whoa-whoas." But there's cryptic humor here that's all Rowe's own ("You can call me a madman / but I'm spoken for.") The manic mix of "Shine My Diamond Ring," with its barrelhouse blues swagger and screaming gutbucket sax, shows a man who likes rough textures and exposed seams. But maybe the most striking number is "Desiree," a Motown-styled reverie with scats and screams; if only Amy Winehouse were around to make it a duet.
♦♦♦   At the core of every song is Rowe's remarkable voice, which sounds inescapably melancholy, tremendously sexy and often slightly menacing. It does all sorts of things well, and its full range is on display here. It seems worth mentioning Rowe's interest in foraging and wild-crafting (see his series of videos on the many uses of milkweed). It's the idea of taking the bounty that's out there, and of using your skills to transform it into something useful, beautiful, remarkable. It's what Rowe does with his music, too.
By Mackenzie Herd, SEP 05 2014, Score: 8
Press: Hilary Okun @ Anti
Agent: US/Canada Frank Riley @ High Road UK/Europe/ROW Paul Charles @ Asgard
♦♦♦   Sean Rowe has spent much of the last year traveling the country with just his guitar, performing in people’s living rooms. “It’s like I’m some kind of a bearded salesman,” he says, “Going door to door but instead of vacuum cleaners I’m selling all these feelings that come with the songs. It’s a really intense experience for listeners to have me there in their homes playing. They’re not used to having a stranger show up, play music, drink their beer and eat their food. But I think that’s how we’re supposed to be. It only feels strange because we’ve made it that way.”
♦♦♦   It is this same sense of unflinching connection that has shaped Rowe’s extraordinary new album Madman. The singer, who The Wall Street Journal wrote “recalls the ecstatic intensity of late-'60s Van Morrison and stark subtlety of late-era Johnny Cash” has created a beautifully primal work.  Madman is deliberately, if not defiantly, simple in both arrangement and composition. It is soul music in the purest and most literal sense, hypnotic rhythms, warmly distorted guitars and Rowe’s incredible voice recalling a time, real or imagined, when music and people seemed distinctly more connected.
♦♦♦   Rowe’s previous Anti- release, The Salesmen and The Shark, was a far more polished affair recorded in Los Angeles with the accompaniment of West Coast session players. This time around, Rowe is intent on replicating the immense emotional power of his live performances. The process began with Rowe alone in an upstate New York recording studio with his guitar, laying down riffs that would become songs. For Madman, an album he was self-producing, Rowe wanted to strip away much of the production and focus instead on the voice and guitar style he had perfected in theaters, nightclubs and living rooms. “I came to this realization that the songs don’t have to be structurally heavy to be intense,” he explains. “It’s more about the honesty and emotion behind the delivery. A lot of these songs are pretty simple but I was really thoughtful about that, it was intentional. I wanted to go right to the heart.”
♦♦♦   The record begins with the title track Madman. A rhythmic guitar, lilting piano and melodic bass, punctuated by horns all of it in the service of Rowe’s incredibly soulful voice. “My singing is definitely more playful on this record,” he says. “Lyrically the song is about living this life when you’re on the road more than you’re at home.” It is an immensely personal and heartfelt song for the recent father and dedicated naturalist, with Rowe singing, “When the road takes me to the other side of the world/Let a walnut tree replace me/Give my body back to the birds".
♦♦♦   Rowe came of age listening to a father’s record collection that included The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and more. But in his late teens it was soul and blues that spoke to the bourgeoning singer-songwriter. Rowe says the sound of Madman is influenced, in large part, by the hypnotic driving guitars of Delta blues. “I was listening to records by R.L. Burnside and John Lee Hooker and others which are basically just guitar and drums and really raw sounding. I was also listening to the early soul records like Otis Redding and Ray Charles. I didn’t want to try and duplicate those sounds, just take aspects of them and make them my own.”
♦♦♦   The influence of Delta blues is most apparent on the album’s second track “Shine My Diamond Ring” with its driving repetitive guitar and stomping bass drum. “The guitar sound was influenced by John Lee Hooker,” Rowe says. “The version you hear on the record —  which was mostly a live cut — almost never happened as it was very last minute. We already had an earlier version of Shine that i was happy with but on this particular day we had about 15 minutes to kill till wrap up time and i felt if i grabbed the drummer and recorded this song live with just the two of us, I could nail it even better. I’m glad I did that."
“Desiree” is a raucous deconstructed take on early disco, with a pulsating bass, Nile Rogers-like guitar picking and a looser than ever Rowe singing with absolute abandon. ♦♦♦   “It’s so different than any song I’ve done before,” Rowe says. “It’s a really fun song and it felt good. It’s one of those songs that I felt like I needed to write. With the thumping bass and drums it needed a lot of space so we tried to keep as many holes in it as possible. The vocals were cut live in one take.”
♦♦♦   On Sean Rowe’s latest, the adage less is more is on full display. This is a record of extraordinary honesty intent on establishing a connection. In its deliberate simplicity there is pure sonic emotion. “I wanted to go right to the heart with this,” he explains. “And sometimes that meant seeing how much we could remove. It helps to have a great recording. But I would rather have great performances and that’s what I was after here. Sometimes when you’re listening to a piece of music you don’t have to think about it, you just feel it. It’s primal and you trust it.”