by Paul Bowers
The world needs more baritones. There have been a few notable ones in rock music since that guy from the Crash Test Dummies, but rarely have they used their deep voices to such stirring effect as Sean Rowe, a gifted songwriter from upstate New York who will play a show tonight at the Pour House.
The City Paper got a review copy of Rowe's latest album, The Salesman and the Shark, several weeks ago, and I've been meaning to say a few words about it ever since. Well, here they are: Go hear this man sing. Seriously, his voice is like buttermilk.
Rowe shares something special with the likes of David Bazan and Damien Jurado, aside from a chest cavity that resonates like a cello: His lyrics are pure and natural, his metaphors delivered with an easy confidence. "I've been sitting up drinking all the words I said," Rowe intones on the song "The Wall." "There's a shark on my ceiling, a salesman in my head." What does that mean? Lord only knows, but I feel it when he sings it.
There are some unexpected twists in the musical accompaniment on the album, including a surf-rock freakout on "Downwind" and a lovely choir on "Signs." There's no telling how much of that he'll be able to reproduce onstage, but as long as his voice is intact, you'll be in good hands.
Rowe opens for country-soul act Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Pour House. Admission is $12.