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Sean Rowe

Sean Rowe

Photo by Matt Dayak

Live in Portland February 19, 2018 | Doug Fir

At 43-years old, Sean Rowe is far from an “up-and-comer” in the music world, and it’s not because of his age. The alternative folk singer-songwriter began writing songs as a teenager, thanks to his role model, Otis Redding, who inspired him to start singing.

Rowe’s distinctive deep baritone voice hits you hard and without hesitation. His bone-rattling timbre calls to mind the likes of songwriting greats Johnny Cash or Greg Brown, but it’s perhaps most similar to the startling boom of Andre The Giant. Rowe has a rooted sense of sorrow to his voice yet it also feels like a warm, familiar comfort.

An avid naturalist, Rowe’s songwriting stems dominantly from his fascination and spiritual connection with nature. He creates music with a raw truth and simplicity much like the qualities of nature itself. His vocals are consistently on display front and center, accompanied with minimal, complimentary blues and folk instruments like the harmonica, acoustic guitar and other ambient sounds. His lyricism often pokes fun at the bustling city life: “My city shakes its head at my wilderness. My heart has built a mind for itself…” and “Let’s leave these rusted old folks back in the city. Where they belong.” on the track “Surprise” from his 2011 album, Magic, Rowe creates a humbling musical experience that is sure to remind each of his listeners about the importance and appreciation of humility.

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From songwriting to the finished product, it’s clear Rowe is deeply involved with each step in his musical process. He creates a wholesome mashup of blues, soul and folk that takes you on a wave of emotions, both happy and sad. One of the most impressive things about him is that he refuses to be overshadowed and clouded by unnecessary instrumentals and leverages the beauty behind the necessities to create music that can be appreciated from listeners young to old.