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Album Review: Sean Rowe - The Salesman And The Shark

5 September 2012 | 11:01 am | Carley Hall

Basically, this whole album is a storytelling vehicle courtesy of a distinctly present personality in Rowe, a trait so often buried when the record deal is landed.

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New Yorker Sean Rowe is one of those bizarre oddities of nature; a passionate naturalist himself and lover of all things plant-related, it's extremely fortunate that this curious, bearded gent had the good sense to pick up a guitar and exhale his most exquisite baritone voice into existence. With a couple of indie releases under his belt, The Salesman And The Shark appears as his first label foray. A smart move; this humble, folk melody-driven album is wonderfully rich and varied in both sound and instrumentation, and there's just no beating this man's lushly deep vocal.

This is what Rowe does so very well; he fills the poignantly sparse moments in the music itself with a voice that has the timbre and inflection of both a joyous and morose storyteller, not unlike our own Nick Cave. For example, slow-burning opener Bring Back The Night has Rowe placing the full resonance behind his voice either side of gentle piano and guitar lines, raising neck hairs with uplifting trills as the texture thickens. He's a malleable one too, sounding stark and confronting on the even-paced Flying then brightly clipped and articulate on the Hispanic/western-flavoured Joe's Cult. The changes in pace and tone continue mid-album, incorporating strings, horns, female harmonies and duets in Signs and The Wall respectively.

The Lonely Maze is the highlight, a cascading waltzy crooner riding an arrangement of pretty sounds, rewarding the senses long after the music stops. Basically, this whole album is a storytelling vehicle courtesy of a distinctly present personality in Rowe, a trait so often buried when the record deal is landed.