Happy International Women's Day!

Hello friends!  I'd like to quickly thank a few of the collaborators who made "TOPAZ" with me. I can't tell you how much better this album is because of their contributions. (Please visit their websites, to check out all the amazing art they're creating!)

Thanks to our three guest vocalists Abigail Lapell, Olenka Krakus & Anna Horvath who were brilliant, each adding their own special voice to the songs.

Thanks to Alexis Marsh whose woodwind performances and arrangements were essential, and to Christine Bougie whose guitar solo in "You're Lonely, Too" was tasteful and perfect.

Thanks to the visual artists Laura Proctor who captured an appropriate moment of calmness for the album photo, and Jessica Rae Gordon (my longest running collaborator, working on all my albums since the very beginning), whose artwork perfectly captured the themes and ideas found in the music.

I tried my best to sustain a gender equality on the production of this album, and while I think it was successful, I know I can and will do better on making an inclusive team for future SWC projects.

Happy International Woman's Day! #IWD2018

Podcast Appearances!

Hey friends, it's still snowy & cold, so I'm still in a hibernation mode.  I'll have some fun news for you soon re: touring, so all is not lost.  In the meantime, I've had the absolute pleasure to appear on two very different music podcasts, that you can listen to below.  If you have the time, check out some of the other episodes on each of these, they're both a blast.  (Click the titles to listen!)

No Sleep Til Sudbury

No Sleep Til Sudbury has a simple but fun concept.  Host Brent Jensen walks a different artist each week through a few songs of their choice that "makes their skin vibrate".  I go through a quick chronology of my influences, from Supertramp to Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, The Blue Nile and ending on Land of Talk.
Further Listening: check the episodes featuring Stephen Stanley & Dave Bidini

All About The Song

Michael McDonnell is a wonderful musician (has played bass with me over the last couple months), and a very thoughtful interviewer.  Like myself, he favours the long form interview, where you can really dig deep into a musicians background & feelings.  We cover A LOT of ground on this interview, from my early high school days up to today.  I play 3 songs on this podcast, including a new song that you can't hear anywhere else! 
Further Listening: Check out the episodes featuring Sean Mendes drummer Mike Sleath, and Parallel's songwriter Holly Dodson

Hope you're well!  Keep in touch.

SWC

My Fav Albums of 2017

And we're at the end.  2017 was another crazy year for the world, but a pretty solid year for me.  I released what I think is my best work yet, TOPAZ (which you can listen to by clicking this run on sentance).  I also toured Europe for the first time ever, and that was such an amazing experience.  I'll be heading back soon, you can bet on that.  In the new year you can expect more shows in Ontario, an East Coast tour in April/May, and as I just mentioned, a trip back to Europe.  Know any places I should play?  Send me an email at shawnclarkemusic@gmail.com

Now on to something I love to do every year, somehow take the hundreds of albums I heard and narrow them down to a few for totally arbitrary reasons!  At the bottom you'll find a super handy Spotify link where you can listen to a track from all the albums I mention (or just click on this sentence!).  Enjoy!

The Top 10

  1. Weather Station - Weather Station
  2. Alvvays - Antisocialites
  3. Little Kid - Sun Milk
  4. Sampha - The Process
  5. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
  6. Land of Talk - Life After Youth
  7. Abigail Lapell - Hide Nor Hair
  8. Fiest - Pleasure
  9. Jon McKiel - Memorial Ten Count
  10. Big Thief - Capacity

The Next 5

  1. Richard Laviolette - Taking The Long Way Home
  2. Jerry Leger - Nonsense And Heartache
  3. Kelela - Take Me Apart
  4. Timber Timbre - Sincerely, Future Pollution
  5. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN

Extra: Two Reissues you should definitely own

So here are 2 fun extras for you.  I absolutely loved these reissues, and played them so much.  First, Jackie Shane - Any Other Way .  Jackie was a pioneer of transgender rights born in a male body, living her entire life as a woman at a time when to do so seemed unthinkable.  And she was an icon in Toronto during the 60's.  All that and the music is fantastic.  She should be more well known.

Next is the longest title of the year, World Sprituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda .  Another artist who should be better known.  This is a collection of her spiritual music, recorded at the Ashram she established and directed in 1983. As someone who spent a lot of time with Ambient, New Age and Spiritual music this year (and as someone who's spent a lifetime exploring the world of Free Jazz and experimental music), this comp is a must get! 

Thanks folks!  I hope you had a great 2017, and if you think I missed any great albums, please comment below! 

Love, and best wishes for the new year


SWC

RIP Gord Downie

We have a lost an important Canadian voice today.  In tribute, this is a repost of something a wrote a year ago for Anne Theriault's compilation of essays on the man himself, Gord Downie, and the songs that have inspired us.  You can read all the essays here:  For Gord: 27 Short Essays About The Tragically Hip, Plus One Poem 
I've posted my essay on the song 38 Years Old in full below, followed by a cover of Gord's tune "Trick Rider"

I don't remember a time when the Tragically Hip weren't in my life. Their first LP (1989's Up To Here) was released at the beginning of my early musical exploration. When I was asked to sing in my first high school band, we learned 5 or 6 tunes, including "New Orleans Is Sinking" and "Blow At High Dough". They were the soundtrack to bush parties, high school basketball games, long car drives, proms, they were everywhere.

And I hated them.

Let's talk about a song, though. Actually let's talk about songwriting. Even in the days when I hated the Hip the most, I always had this nagging inner voice telling me that I might be making a horrible mistake in harbouring such a negative (and unpopular) opinion about the band. Eventually that voice became too loud to ignore, and at that point I began to pay attention to what these tunes were actually about:

Canadian cities.

Canadian people.

Canadian history.

They were telling their Canadian audience that there was no shame in telling Canadian stories, and they're right. There isn't.

Jeez, Gord. I'm sorry I didn't see this earlier.

In 1989, when Kim Mitchell was vapidly lamenting his "Rock And Roll Duty", and long-forgotten chanteuse Candi was reminding us that "Love Makes No Promises", The Tragically Hip were singing about The Millhaven prison break ("38 Years Old"). That particular story is just as interesting as anything from San Quentin or Folsom, but what made Downie's telling of it extraordinary was the choice he made in focusing on the emotional and the familiar instead of the sensational. And, with all due respect to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, that's what holds this song above your average prison song. Downie creates an empathy for the song's protagonist, Mike, that I've never felt for Cash's chain gang murderer. But at the same time, Downie manages to avoid the weepy sentimentality of a "Moma Tried"; When Mike's mother cries that "the horror has finally ceased," the scene is played in such a matter-of-fact way that it feels real. It feels like it could be my family.

"38 Years Old" is just one example of Gord's genius for combining Canadiana with brilliant storytelling. Since that first LP, The Tragically Hip have told the stories of Bobcaygeon, The Isle Aux Morts, Sault Sainte Marie, Niagara Falls, Toronto, a lake in Quebec, Algonquin Park, The Prairies, the 100th Meridian, a cemetery in Kingston, hockey, bears, CBC, Canada — just to name a few. Put it this way: if it's a Canadian event, place or feeling, the Hip have probably sung about it. And all of this has paved the way for other Canadian singer-songwriters to explore their own relationship with this country and its history.

Jeez, Gord. I'm sorry I didn't see these things earlier.