Sean Rowe - Magic
Boasting a voice that has distinct echoes of Leonard Cohen, Sean Rowe's debut album Magic is a pretty bleak affair but the results are well worth going to the dark side for. The vocals imbue the tracks with a much-needed gravitas to lift them above your standard singer-songwriter efforts and really make you connect with the album. One of the main highlights is 'Jonathan', an account of a fatal car crash that manages to mix Rowe's dark lyrics ("I left my body in the car / I listened hard for the voice of God / I didn't hear nothing at all") with the fast-paced folk-esque guitars without sounding odd and contradictory. Catchy, fast-paced melodies are few and far between on the album because Sean Rowe is the main attraction here and the - often simplistic - acoustic musical backdrop just serves to make the vocals even more compelling. The strong songwriting is also key to Magic's success and while it often treads down some dark paths such as on 'American' - "He puts out the lights and jerks off alone / He's married to cancer / He counts on his Internet girl" - it is to Rowe's credit that it never feels forced just to get a emotional reaction. While Magic certainly isn't the most instantly accessible debut album, it won't take long for anyone who perseveres with it to fall under Sean Rowe's spell.