Roy Jurgens on
If this song is your introduction to the force of nature that is Sean Rowe, it is one that exists rather outside the frame of his usual paintings. “Newton’s Cradle” is a playful tune that recalls Van Morrison when he had a sense of humor. Clever with his metaphors, Rowe playfully name-checks the laws of physics, the yin and yang of interpersonal relationships and how impact begets impact and devolves into an endless cycle of wasted energy until it all inevitably collapses. A swirling string section and Motown-era backing vocals add to the self-deprecating nature one resorts to when comfortably existing in the discomfort of a crazy romantic entanglement.
A native of upstate New York and sporting the bearing of one who wields an ax for a living, Rowe has a workman’s attitude to his craft, as evidenced on his new album “New Lore,” which came out in April via Anti- Records. His rasping voice is one that hits like a fine hand-rolled cigarette, rough yet strangely soothing. His songs are of wanting, unrequited love, loss, and the human desire for connection and the complications therein. He considers himself a door to door salesman who peddles feelings by way of his tunes, which are gruff and wounded explorations of honesty and loss. While he borrows quite heavily from ancestral blues, his songs don’t fall within the traditional 12-bar trappings. If anything they are deconstructed and primal in comparison.
This is not music for selfies, but for the self.
||| Watch: The video for “Newton’s Cradle”
||| Live: Sean Rowe performs at the Sanctuary at Pico-Union Project on July 7. Tickets.
||| Also: Stream the full album via Spotify