Hey friends! So it's getting to the end of 2017! 2016 was a bit of a dumpster fire for me personally, so this year has been a welcome change. I'll have a year end wrap up + my personal top albums of 2017, but in the meantime, I asked my friends on Facebook for their recommendations, and they didn't disappoint! I hope you enjoy the playlist I made from them!
Hey friends! It's the holiday season, and if you're looking for the perfect gift for you or your vinyl loving friend, then look no further! For a limited time you can get both 2014's "William" & 2017's "TOPAZ" together for the super low price of $30! I'm practically giving them away. All you have to do is follow the link below, and get yourself some vinyl goodness.
If you live in Canada, order this week and I'll get out to you before the holidays. If you live outside Canada, I'll try my best, but can't make any promises. But I'll try my best.
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:
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.
TOPAZ has already garnered rave reviews; Exclaim.ca gave it a 9/10 rating calling it "gorgeous, lush and intimate". http://exclaim.ca/music/article/shawn_william_clarke-topaz
You can stream & Download on all your favourite platforms here: STREAM & DOWNLOAD YO!
What's a lyric video? It's a thing that people like, so I made one! Check it out, I'm not the sharpest directer ever, but I was able to use artwork by the very talented Jessica Rae Gordon, so I have that going for me!
Apple Music: https://itun.es/ca/i1PYkb
The beautiful first single from Shawn William Clarke’s upcoming album TOPAZ is a homage to finding windows of solace amidst the chaos of life.
Departing from the more acoustically-driven tendencies of his past release, William, the transition comes with ease. Shawn William Clarke has curated his textures to follow his lyrics. Effortlessly bringing on a more electric and 70’s AM Radio Gold feel to his newest single, “Autumn in New Brunswick”.
Shawn’s signature hypnotic and autobiographical lyrics present the resting and calming points of the hectic nature of touring. Feeling much like a road diary, “Autumn in New Brunswick” is an emotional postcard to a friend. The song is serene and pastoral, matching up as a perfect companion to the subject. Clarke shares a glimpse into his life on the road with Olenka and Autumn Lovers, and fittingly adding the vocal prowess of Olenka herself on harmonies. Sink into your seat, close your eyes and let the words paint the picture for you.
Back in October I found myself at the Folk Music Ontario conference in Ottawa. While there I had a chance to chat with Jan Hall, who has featured me on her program in the past. She's a really wonderful interviewer, and great human being. It was fun to talk with her, and I played 2 new songs that'll appear on my upcoming album! Please check it below, the interview starts around the 18 minute mark.
It's really interesting to listen to those songs, they've gone through some changes since October! I can't wait to play them for you soon!
Just a quick update, we've started working on my newest album! The follow up to 2016's "William" will be a little different, as I worked closer with a new band, and am playing mostly electric guitar! I'll be posting updates, as we progress, including a link to a pre-order campaign coming very soon! In the meantime, please check out my Instagram Page and/or Professional Facebook page where I've been posting photos from our recording sessions up in Gravenhurst at Curries Music!
Thank you so much for following my work, I really appreciate it, and I'm super excited to show this new music to you all!
Well, 2016 is at it's end. Thankfully. This was a strange year for me, and while I did have a few accomplishments, I'm happy to move on. 2017 looks bright, including the most exciting news, I'll be recording a new album! The follow up to 2014's "William" will commence recording in April. I'll post more details as they come.
In the mean time, here are a few of the albums that really spoke to me this year. I've put a track from each one (and a few more for good measure) on a handy Spotify link at the bottom of the post!
The First 10
- Andy Shauf - The Party
- David Bowie - Blackstar
- Beyonce - Lemonade
- Leonard Cohen - You Want it Darker
- Dyan - Looking for Knives
- F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm - Tag Eins Tag Zwei
- LUKA - Summon Up a Monkey King
- Sturgill Simpson - A Sailors Guide to Earth
- Little Kid - Flowers
- A Tribe Called Red - We are the Halluci Nation
The Next 10
- Solange - A Seat at the Table
- Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
- Mathewdavid Mindflight - Trust the Guide and Glide
- Kendrick Lamar - Untitled Unmastered
- Whitney - Light Upon the Lake
- A Tribe Called Quest - We Got it from Here, Thank You for Your Service
- Tim Hecker - Love Streams
- Corin Raymond - Hobo Jungle Fever
- Leanne Betasamosake Simpson - F(l)ight
- Noname - Telefone