Album Review: Sean Rowe | Darkness Clothed in Colored Lights | Music | Hudson Valley

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Sean Rowe | Darkness dressed in colored lights

(Fluff & Gravy Records)

Sean Rowe’s latest begins with a heavy heart and baritone befitting his previous musical forays. Life is deep and hopeful, sad and beautiful. On the second track, we enter new territory with the electricity of synths and epic choirs of U2-arena. Although there are so many instruments on track one, on track two the spectrum explodes. It might be a challenge for die-hard Rowe fans to take this alternate direction and they might even ache for the old man and his guitar, but be patient and give the evolution a peek. The guitar is still there, the piano too, but the lightness of the cheerful brass and the sparkle of the electric guitars send us into the heavens of soul, pop and even R&B. Don’t be misled, however: these are ballads à la Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen.

The Darkness Dressed in Colored Lights is an elaborate achievement. Dense, layered and diverse, it’s an introspective and generous exploration of emotion and genre, including country groove, alternative folk and American boogie. The record is even sexy, losing his clothes as he slides, skinny, into the gospel well. The production, the singing, the acting, the words – it all flows with the song and the story. As usual, Rowe’s voice shines, aided by good lyrics, yes, but also by the innate ability to occupy a special place between commanding and tender. Fittingly, Rowe is based in the ever-booming city of Troy; perpetually borderline hip but still gritty, cool and complicated.

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