Sean McConnell - Secondhand Smoke / Shaky Bridges / Mary & Joe
One of the albums that given us most pleasure over the last few years has been Sean McConnell's self titled album. so it's great to see the first tracks of the official followup emerging along with news that he'll be accompanying Ashley Monroe on her forthcoming London dates.
The first track "SecondHand Smoke" has many of the smart lyrical observations that made that album so real and enjoyable. His description of his father opening a packet of cigarettes, "the crinkle of the cellophane, the crackle of tobacco flame" sets the scene for a relationship seen at two distinctly different times.
The first sees a young Sean "riding shotgun in a gold Sedan" with his father and he's "laughing till i'm crying at a joke" all the time while his father is smoking. It is the small details such as what was playing on the radio, or the type of wallet he has, that paint such a vivid scene we may as well be on the back seat watching on.
When they meet up in the second verse, in New York City it is a totally different picture, they've not spoken for seven years and the only thing that can break the ice is Sean observing that his father has changed brands of cigarette. Musically it is mainly just a guitar and a muted drum machine, with lots of atmosphere giving Sean the perfect backdrop to unfold his story. It has an almost Springsteen feel to it circa the "Tunnel Of Love" album.
To keep the Springsteen theme going, the opening to "Shaky Bridges" could almost come from "The River", with its glorious harmonica.but it then opens up into a Gospel song with rich soulful backing provided by the McCrary Sisters.Opening with the line "I've put my name on songs i've never sung, I gambled on my muse" it deals with the temptations to keep true to oneself, and avoid the easy ways to success whether it be through compromising your vision to doing "deals with the devil".
Both tracks only whet the appetite for what will be one of our most anticipated albums of 2019.
While we are on the subject of Sean McConnell, it is the time of year that provides us with another chance to highlight his great Christmas single "Mary & Joe", Sean's gritty modern retelling of the Christmas story. With just a guitar and a harmonica it is one of the greatest Christmas songs you'll get to hear.