Shawn William Clarke has long been a sideman with acts like the gypsy-folk collective Olenka and the Autumn Lovers and Arts & Crafts recording artist Timber Timbre. But a few years ago, the Toronto musician branched out to pursue a solo career, putting himself squarely in the spotlight. His debut album “Like Birds Too Tired To Fly” was called “one of the best Canadian albums of 2010” by Snobs Music blog and now has a follow up, Clarke's sophomore album, “William”.
“William” features the autobiographical storytelling found on “Like Birds Too Tired To Fly” and has a number of songs inspired by the tales of both cities and small towns, from Clarke's travels across Canada. “Some Nerve” is a solemn tribute to unconditional love in a slowly progressing landscape, while “I Blame the Loyalist Ghost” is a tongue-in-cheek lament on being sick during an East Coast tour. “William” also contains the song “Tranzac Club”, which tells the tale of a new love blossoming in his current city of Toronto, Ontario.
Clarke sought out James Bunton (Ohbijou, Diamond Rings, Evening Hymns) to produce the album and they decided to record in Gravenhurst, Ontario at the studio space inside Currie's Music and Collectibles. “Currie's was a very inspiring location to record this album”, says Clarke. “The Currie brothers [who own and run the store] make you feel at home and their knowledge and supply of vintage equipment is unparalleled.” Good use was made of the instruments available at the antique shop including a number of vintage guitars like the 1969 Guild that was once owned by Canadian singer-songwriter Mendelson Joe, a 1962 Gibson that was used on the children's television show Romper Room, and a 1967 Yamaha that resonated so much with Clarke he purchased it after the recording sessions.
As a songwriter, Clarke's goal has been to simplify music and melodies, bringing the subjects of his lyrics to the foreground. Have a listen and see if you don't agree.
“Clarke manages to triangulate past, present and future in songs that feel both close to home and otherworldly, but also remarkably bereft of the weariness or melancholy that tends to permeate the genre” - Exclaim!
"William is intimate and rich, and one of the finest folk records you'll hear this year." - Exclaim
"Shawn's music contains two things that I love: space and simplicity. Nothing is overplayed, it's wonderfully subtle and understated. And the simplicity reveals itself in immediately identifiable themes and accessible songs. It is really a great record!" - Craig Norris, CBC Radio
"Finger picking guitar, banjo and nice sunshine filled vocals fight the steel and sadness that permeate his thoughts and support from many of his talented friends (Olenka, Nick Zubeck and Wilderness of Manitoba to name a few) give this effort a professional, enjoyable feel" - Herohill
- Runner up for Best Songwriter in NOW magazine's Best of TO 2014
- Featured on CBC Artist Series
- Played the NXNE music festival 2011 to 2014
- Performed at the 2013 Canadian Music Week
- Awarded "Folk Album of the year" by Toronto Exclusive Magazine 2011
- Performed at the 2013 Mudtown Music Festival
- Awarded "Folk Song of the Year" (for To Think I Once Was Lost) by Toronto Exclusive Magazine 2011
- Debut album was released in 2010, it received critical acclaim and charted on campus radio
- Featured on CBC radio 3 Track of the Day June 30 2010
- Filmed with popular Canadian video site "Southern Souls" and popular international video site "Balcony TV"
- Performed in the 2012 Indieweek festival in Toronto