September 25, 2015
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, of whom 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 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 burgeoning 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.”
Add to your Calendar