With deep vocals and deeper lyrics, singer / songwriter Sean Rowe’s latest album gets to the point.
“The Darkness Dressed in Colored Lights”, due out Friday, is an introspective record that touches on rawness, as well as the freedom that comes with sorrow. Over the course of 11 songs, he travels through several landscapes and soundscapes, from delicate folk to rock.
Rowe, who lives in Round Lake, recorded it in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, even before the pandemic was on everyone’s mind, working with longtime producer and capital region collaborator Troy Pohl, as well as Grammy-winning engineer Brian Joseph, who worked with Bon Iver.
He has also worked with a host of other musicians, including drummer / percussionist Shane Leonard, bassist Jeremy Boetcher and pianist Ben Lester, among others. Beyond Pohl, Rowe did not know any of the musicians before recording with them; he had sought them out because of their work, especially on Anna Tavel’s album “The Question”.
“It was really a blindfolded experience where you just hope everything goes well,” Rowe said.
Judging by the finished album, it seems to have turned out that way.
From the opening track, “Where Are We Now”, a soft guitar accompanies the dismal lyrics:
love doesn’t feel so light
like he did the day before.
Then, “To Make it Real” opens with delicate strings and a voice that is both optimistic and melancholy. Rowe sings:
All this sky
all this music
One day it will be
The last time
You won’t get it back
The album title is hidden in the bridge of this song:
All this darkness
dressed in colorful lights
Everything is false
But you are so beautiful tonight
As for the sound of the song, Rowe channeled Radiohead’s “In Rainbows”.
“What I think Thom Yorke is really famous for is capturing that mood that really draws you in and really transports you. So a song like ‘To Make it Real’, I wanted it to be like that. Although I care deeply about the words and what is actually said with the language, but for this kind of song it’s really about transporting the listener with the vibe of it, ”Rowe said.
Later, the atmosphere resumes with dancing songs like “Squid Tattoo”. Through a wacky electric guitar and saxophone, Rowe sings:
I woke up too late in this dive bar
I dipped the bad song in alcohol
Now i love you
But I can’t believe you’re from Ohio
During the recording and editing process, the song presented some challenges.
“Some of them were logistics. But some of it was stylistic, like we were trying out stuff and on a personal level I thought it was too close to my influences, ”Rowe said. “I didn’t know if it was going to go over there and we re-recorded part of it. Then it worked.
While there were a few other songs that turned out to be hard to come by, they all made it onto the album – “which is pretty rare for me; there is always something left out”, Rowe said.
The album’s release was delayed due to the pandemic, during which Rowe performed weekly virtual shows to stay afloat.
“It was just crazy. I was going through a personal breakup and also trying to figure out what I was going to do to generate income like everyone else on the planet, ”Rowe said.
“I think the fans enjoyed something that came out of the performance, although it wasn’t quite ideal. It was something.
Most recently he has resumed performing live and he has a few tour dates on the schedule later this month and the next in Syracuse, Northampton, Massachusetts, Brooklyn and other cities.
“The Darkness Dressed in Colored Lights” releases Friday via Fluff & Gravy Records. For more information on the album and upcoming shows (virtual and in person), visit seanrowe.net.
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts