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Shawn William Clarke TOPAZ

Shawn William Clarke — TOPAZ (Sept. 1st, 2017)

            Shawn William Clarke — TOPAZ (Sept. 1st, 2017)  Shawn William Clarke — TOPAZ (Sept. 1st, 2017)•      Clarke je mistrem nuancí, zjednodušených instrumentací a zároveň světlonošem prostřednictvím vyprávění příběhů. TOPAZ bude patřit mezi nejoblíbenější soubory písní z nejčastější rotací ve vašich sluchátkách. Celoročně.
•      Shawn William Clarke is an indie folk songwriter, twice nominated as Songwriter of the Year in NOW magazine’s Best of Toronto poll. His recent release, TOPAZ, was inspired by 80’s Gordon Lightfoot, Kenny Buttrey’s drumming on Neil Young’s “Harvest”; and the existential dilemma’s we faced in 2016.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Album release: Sept. 1st, 2017
Record Label: Independent
Duration:     36:00
01. Back To Breath     1:56
02. Autumn In New Brunswick     4:14
03. The Tourists     4:38
04. Young In Love (At The End Of The World)     3:36
05. You’re Lonely, Too     4:20
06. Distortions     3:00
07. Mouse Not The Man     4:19
08. Anxiety     5:55
09. Gros Morne     3:02
•      Shawn William Clarke: Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars
•      Kristian Noel Pedersen: Synths, Wurlizer. Hammond
•      Andrew Del Cin: Drums, Percussion
•      David Gluck: Bass
•      Alexis Marsh: woodwinds, sax solo on “Anxiety”
•      Olenka Krakus: Vocals, feature on “Autumn In New Brunswick”
•      Abigail Lapel: Vocals, feature on “Young In Love (At The End Of The World)”
•      Merival: Vocals, feature on “You’re Lonely, Too”, “Mouse Not The Man”
•      Christine Bougie: Guitar on “You’re Lonely, Too”
•      James Bunton: Producer, piano on “Young In Love (At The End Of The World)”
•      Jeff “Fedge” Elliot: Mastering
•      Rob Currie: Engineer
•      Artwork: Jessica Rae Gordon
•      Photography: Laura Proctor
By Matthew McKean  |  Published Aug 30, 2017  |  Score: 9
•      It’s hard to resist Shawn William Clarke’s charms. His 2014 record, William, was a warm, impressionist mural that hypnotized critics and slow~dancers alike, and now, the Toronto~based singer~songwriter returns with TOPAZ. It boasts an updated sound — think ambient folk meets abstract expressionism — but has the same entrancingly lovely songwriting and feel.
•      TOPAZ is gorgeous, lush and intimate, from the 2~minute guitar~woodwind opener “Back to Breath” to “Gros Morne,” the dreamy closer. A handful of tracks in this otherwise graceful alliance of songs deserve special attention, though: “Autumn in New Brunswick,” with Olenka Krakus (Olenka and the Autumn Lovers), is a lovely hymn to travel; “Young in Love (At the End of the World),” with Abigail Lapell; and “You’re Lonely, Too,” with Merival on vocals and Christine Bougie on guitar (Bahamas, the Good Lovelies, Jason Collett). They’re lyrical sketches of everyday life, love and loneliness. Krakus, Lapell and Merival all return for the intensely personal tracks “Mouse Not the Man” and “Anxiety.”
•      A recurring theme on TOPAZ is exploring unchartered emotional, geographical and sonic territory. Musically, though, it’s all about collaboration, and the phenomenal women here who elevate and illuminate the music. The vocal matchups alone are irresistible. Clarke’s electric guitar is a welcome addition, as are film composer Alexis Marsh’s woodwind arrangements throughout the record — not to mention her scene~stealing performance on “Anxiety.”
•      Clarke is a master of nuance, simplified use of instrumentation and luminosity through storytelling. TOPAZ is one of the most likeable sets of songs you’ll hear all year.   •      http://exclaim.ca/
Bandcamp: https://shawnclarke.bandcamp.com/album/topaz
Website: http://www.shawnwilliamclarke.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shawnclarke
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shawnwilliamclarke/
Previous album William, by Eleni Armenakis:
•      https://grayowlpoint.com/2014/12/09/review-william-shawn-william-clarke/
•      “TOPAZ”, Shawn William Clarke’s follow~up to the critically acclaimed “William”, wondrously introduces a new sound while maintaining his signature poignant storytelling.
•      Coming out of the bleakness that was 2016, TOPAZ is an ode to new beginnings and renewal. “I was floundering, in between jobs, in an existential funk, so I consciously started 2017 with a new mindset. I quit drinking, and began focusing on TOPAZ”. With fresh determination, he dusted off his electric guitar, and began writing.
•      TOPAZ dives into anxiety, existentialism, and finding stillness in the whirlwind of life. These tracks weave a delicate balance between celebration and understatement. Salute and Shadows; 80’s albums from fellow Orillian Gordon Lightfoot, initially inspired Shawn to begin working on TOPAZ. “The sonic quality of those records, the subtle mix of synths and electric guitar really got me excited about the prospects of creating again, up until that point I was primarily listening to Ambient and New Age music” There’s an ease in this album that navigates themes of travel and finding the familiar in unknown places throughout Canada with songs like “Autumn in New Brunswick”, and “Gros Morne” while digging deeper on a personal level with “Mouse Not The Man” and exploring the art of storytelling with “You’re Lonely, Too”, and “Young In Love (At The End Of The World)”.
•      Clarke’s ability to share his soul and experience in great transparency lowers the guard of any listener. TOPAZ is an outpouring of literary prowess and the uplifting spirit of collaboration shows on every track. Clarke’s ideas attracted an incredible cast of musicians into the mix. James Bunton (Ohbijou, Donovan Woods, Evening Hymns) returns as producer, and the talented David Gluck is once again featured on bass. Meanwhile, newcomers Kristian Noel Pedersen on Synths/Wurlitzer, and Andrew Dal Cin on drums help create this new sound. An impressive roster of special guests include vocalists Olenka Krakus, Merival, and “Colleen Pedersen Award” winner Abigail Lapell. Christine Bougie (Bahamas, The Good Lovelies, Jason Collett) plays guitar on “You’re Lonely, Too”, and film composer Alexis Marsh (whose work can be heard on the show “Animal Kingdom”) arranged and performed all the woodwinds.
•      To say that Shawn Clarke’s songwriting has turned heads is an understatement. His critically~acclaimed songwriting received a 9/10 from Exclaim Magazine, 4/5 from NOW Magazine. He was named as a runner up as Best Songwriter in NOW Magazine in 2014 and 2015. And his recent album William was nominated Best Folk Album in Toronto Independent Music Awards in 2015. All in all, Shawn is a storyteller and will continue to tell stories that move him and if you’re in earshot, they will move you too. TOPAZ will stick with you. Some songs feel like they’re already written, as if they’re just plucked out of thin air, ripened and fully complete. “Young And In Love (At The End Of The World)” — The second single from Shawn William Clarke’s upcoming album TOPAZ — is one of these songs. “Young And In Love…” is an open letter about finding innocence amidst an ever~changing world. While our daily existence might not always be what we want, there’s always room for that feeling of falling in love, having a crush, and approaching something with naivete. As Clarke states “It was the final song written for the album, and I wrote it quick.” When he sent it to his producer James Bunton and it was an instant favourite. The song features Abigail Lapell (Colleen Pederson Songwriter Award winner). In the spirit of the composition, Shawn asked Abigail “to be herself.” And the more she used her own voice, the more it took a form of its own. Much like we take time and fumble to settle into our own form, songs can take the same path. “Young And In Love…” is a testament to how we grow as people and what we carry. And sometimes it’s all about finding what’s in front of us to gain that perspective. Listen, sit back and enjoy.
•      The beautiful first single from Shawn William Clarke’s upcoming album TOPAZ is a homage to finding windows of solace amidst the chaos of life.
•      Departing from the more acoustically~driven tendencies of his past release, William, the transition comes with ease. Shawn William Clarke has curated his textures to follow his lyrics. Effortlessly bringing on a more electric and 70’s AM Radio Gold feel to his newest single, “Autumn in New Brunswick”.
•      Shawn’s signature hypnotic and autobiographical lyrics present the resting and calming points of the hectic nature of touring. Feeling much like a road diary, “Autumn in New Brunswick” is an emotional postcard to a friend. The song is serene and pastoral, matching up as a perfect companion to the subject. Clarke shares a glimpse into his life on the road with Olenka and Autumn Lovers, and fittingly adding the vocal prowess of Olenka herself on harmonies. Sink into your seat, close your eyes and let the words paint the picture for you.

Shawn William Clarke TOPAZ