The Salesman and the Shark

The Salesman and the Shark

by Sean RoweSean Rowe


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Singer and songwriter Sean Rowe is possessed of a truly singular voice. On Magic, his Anti debut in 2011, it seemed to rumble straight up from the depths of the earth to shake the listener's ground. Though the stark guitar and voice production were a bit rigid, Rowe's songs, even when a tad clumsy, carried within them a singular vision of the natural world and an experiential poetry that was easily communicated to listeners through that powerful voice. The Salesman and the Shark stands in contrast to its predecessor. Produced by Woody Jackson, Rowe is backed by a band on most tracks, as well as various backing singers (who include Petra Haden and Isobel Campbell), and an occasional string section (Octetto Magnifico). The supporting cast is warranted; Rowe's grown immensely as a writer. His melodies are tighter, his lyrics and cadences sharper. Likewise, that voice, which seemed already perfect, is even more disciplined and expressive. Opener "Bring Back the Night" is a waltz ushered in by a halting electric guitar, a skeletal piano, and a simple bassline. Rowe gets through the first verse about broken love then delivers the killer couplet the tune turns on: "The jungle has built its own plans/And I was born obsolete, though I'm not an innocent man...." His voice digs inside those words as if they were from his marrow. A backing chorus joins him, sliding in from the margins and carrying it to the heavens as a prayer. On "Elsewhere," the band shimmers in the backdrop; they give his vocals free rein on top, bringing the tune's simple melody and weighty lyrics to the listener like a shot. Inara George duets on "The Wall," introduced by the strings with restrained dissonance. They create a sense off quiet drama before Rowe calms them as he begins to relate a broken love song; George plaintively answers him from the other side of the divide. "Horses" is one of two rock songs here with its driving organic percussion, hyperactive strings, and kinetic acoustic guitars. The other is "Downwind," which successfully employs surf music to further its ends. In terms of production there are a few songs here that rely too much on Tom Waits ("Joe's Cult") and Leonard Cohen ("The Lonely Maze"). That said, they don't feel like missteps because Rowe actually possesses the chops to deliver the songs, which are strong regardless. The Salesman and the Shark is head and shoulders above the work of most of Rowe's peers, and he possesses a strong identity as a songwriter, even if he doesn't feel confident completely relying on it yet.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/28/2012
Label: Anti
UPC: 0045778718320
catalogNumber: 87183
Rank: 21499

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sean Rowe   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Paul Cartwright   Violin
Danny Frankel   Drums
Petra Haden   Background Vocals
Woody Jackson   Guitar,Percussion,Clavinet,Bells,Timpani,Vibes,Upright Bass,Wurlitzer,Electric Harpsichord,Marxophone
Inara George   Vocals
Daphne Chen   Violin
Isobel Campbell   Background Vocals
Rob Bochnik   Guitar
Zac Rae   Piano,farfisa organ,Dulcitone,Hammond B3
Chris Kyle   Guitar,Electric Guitar
Markéta Irglová   Piano,Vocals
Gus Seyffert   Bass,Double Bass,Upright Bass
Ina Veli   Violin
Sarah Pedinotti   Organ,Piano,Background Vocals
Davey Chegwidden   Percussion,Castanets,Bass Drums,Tambourine,Timpani
Chris Carey   Organ,Bass,Drums,Electric Guitar,Hammond Organ
Reiko Nakano   Violin
Living Sisters   Background Vocals
Mike Bolger   Trombone,Trumpet
Cara May Gorman   Background Vocals
Clinton Patterson   Trumpet
Octetto Magnifico   Strings
Jennavive Varga   Violin

Technical Credits

Woody Jackson   Producer
Sean Rowe   Composer,Producer
Frank Moscowitz   Whistle
Masa Tsuzuki   Engineer
Geoff Gallegos   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Brian Rosemeyer   Engineer
Marius Bugge   Cover Photo
Jon Jetter   Engineer
Erika Burkowski   Layout

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