Premier Concerts and Manic Presents:
Daphne Lee Martin, S.G. Carlson
295 Treadwell Street
Hamden, CT, 06514
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
“We are the elders of our minds,” sings Sean Rowe on “Gas Station Rose,” the track that ushers in his fourth album, New Lore, with plaintive plucks of guitar and steady drips of piano that fall in like rain. It’s a sparse and beautiful moment, anchored by Rowe’s unparalleled voice – so full of gravely soul, aged and edged by years on the road, as a father and husband, as a creative force always looking for the next rhyme. And, so integral to the man that he is, one that is constantly absorbing nature. It wasn’t the easiest journey to get to the ten vulnerable songs that comprise New Lore (out April 7th care of Anti-) – it took a label change, a trip to Memphis and some support from unexpected places – but what resulted is a roadmap for a gentle heart in modern times, in a world where the best oracle isn’t within a computer, but within ourselves.
Though Rowe has often made his hometown of Troy, New York and its surrounding areas his creative base, New Lore brought a new environment, and a new producer. Appropriate to his love of folk-blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf, he ventured to Sam Phillips Recording studio in Memphis to work with Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price). They tapped into the history of the legendary space to hone a sound that is at once rich and stark, putting Rowe’s deep and dynamic rage at the forefront. Because if high notes can shatter windows, Rowe’s low and guttural ones can meld sand into glass.
“I was looking for a specific sound and part of that was the rawness, the element of risk that Sam Phillips took with his artists,” Rowe says. “Since I was a kid I was really drawn to that music. I wasn’t really listening to music my peers were: I was really into old soul music, and music coming out of Memphis. It’s been in my work maybe in more subtle ways than now, but it’s always been in there.”
The songs on New Lore were often built to let Rowe’s voice come through in its most stirring capacity: from the wrenching ode to parenthood “I’ll Follow Your Trail” to the naturalistic “The Very First Snow,” instrumentals are layered carefully and artfully over the vocals, finding footing in Rowe’s sly and idiosyncratic guitar style. Much of what came was a result of Rowe going into the studio with a more relaxed approach – no preproduction was done, no demos finished. Rowe and Ross-Spang embraced an organic style that is so representative of how the singer-songwriter leads his life, and that is one of always fighting to flow gently with the earth, not against it.
“We were looking for perfect imperfection,” Rowe says. “If we fucked up and it was cool, then I wanted that in there. You let it happen and you don’t polish it too much.”
New Lore also ushered in a career shift – this time, after several years on Anti-, Rowe launched his own label, Three Rivers Records, and will release his LP as a collaboration with the Anti- family. He also embraced a new way of funding his work, using a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to make the Memphis dreams a reality, and embarked on a series of house shows to reconnect with his fans at the most basic, intimate level.
“I kept asking myself, ‘What would be cool? What would be something different?,'” Rowe says. “That’s what led me to house shows, and to the Kickstarter and to just take chances. Those chances are what led me to early rock and roll in the first place – that’s all about taking chances. I had no idea what to expect, but I could tell as it got more momentum that people really wanted to see it happen.”
Rowe also found himself on another unexpected wave – his unreleased song “To Leave Something Behind” found life in Ben Affleck’s film The Accountant, exposing the mystique of his music to an even wider audience. Written five years ago in London, it echoes some of the themes that half a decade later surfaced again in New Lore: the things in life we pass down to our children, the ideas we learn from our elders, the shadows we leave behind when we are gone. The first single, “Gas Station Rose,” is about two people trying to navigate that together. “That’s the conflict to the story,” Rowe says. “They want to stick it out, but they know it’s incredibly hard to keep shit together. Conflict makes for a great song.”
So does opening yourself up to vulnerability: New Lore is formed from that tenderness, exposed like an open wound but one asking for healing, not to linger in pain. Like “Promise of You,” with a gospel swing inspired by Ketty Lester’s classic “Love Letters” and the piano-driven “I Can’t Make a Living From Holding You,” Rowe speaks to the reality of loving and leaving, a constant dilemma for a man who builds half of himself on tour playing to strangers and half of himself tucking his children in at night. Home is process, not a destination, and New Lore is a roadmap there – perfectly imperfect, raw and real.
“My music isn’t glossy or shiny,” Rowe says. “But it’s true.”
Daphne Lee Martin
Folksinger. Diverse, driven songwriter. Multi-instrumentalist. Producer. Independent businesswoman. Daphne Lee Martin has juggled multiple roles through her career, balancing a road warriors commitment to the road with a sound that blends the traditions of southern roots music with the sharp sensibilities of New England folk, indie rock, sophisticated soul, and all points in between.
On Scared Fearless, her fifth album of original material, she shines a light on her years logged as a touring musician. Tracking Martin’s progress across landscapes both physical and figurative, Scared Fearless is an autobiographical album about the lessons learned — as well as the love that’s both made and lost — during an adulthood spent onstage and on the road. Call it a travelogue, perhaps, with entries that tackle the emptiness of modern hook-up culture “Fuck Tinder, I”m Standing Right Here”, the artistic struggle “Young Man’s Game”, the slow death of a once-vital relationship “Some Fool”, and the unending battle between the call of the open highway and the lure of home “Songbirds”. There’s heartbreak, honesty, and humor. Throughout it all, Martin decorates the music with acoustic guitar, upright bass, piano, pedal steel, brushed percussion, violin, and other organic instruments, delivering her songs in a manner that’s as natural and nuanced as the songwriting itself.
Produced by Martin, Eric Lichter, and Jonah Tolchin, Scared Fearless was recorded in a traditional log cabin in the Connecticut mountains, within earshot of the Connecticut River. There, during a four-day tracking session at Dirt Floor Studios, Martin captured the album’s basic arrangements in a series of live performances, with help from musicians like Isaac Young, MorganEve Swain, Matt Slobogan, Jim Carpenter, Thor Jensen, Andrew Sovine, Kieran Ledwidge, Tall Tall Trees, and John Faraone. Although Martin had met most of those musicians in her adopted hometown of New London, Connecticut, she’d written Scared Fearless on the road, during the lengthy solo tours that kept her away from home throughout much of 2015 and early 2016. Those tours took her from coast to coast, where she played a dizzying string of listening rooms, bars, and house shows. Along the way, she pieced together her new album’s material in hotel rooms, sound checks, and the front seat of her car. Like Polaroids in a photo book, the songs wove together to create a story filled with candid details: estranged lovers laying together upon a cold bed; a car spilling gravel to the roadside as it speeds into the sun; a packed bag, waiting to be road-bound; a pillow slowly losing the scent of the one whose head once dented its surface. The album’s cover, created by John Torres, touches upon some of those images. matching them with pictures taken during Martin’s travels.
A lifelong musician whose previous albums have doubled down on her fictional storytelling chops, Martin turns the camera lens upon herself with Scared Fearless. This is the soundtrack to a life spent in the trenches, pulled into battle by one’s dedication to art, travel, and exploration. It’s an album shaped by mile markers, rear view mirrors, and wanderlust. And, like the highway that runs beneath Martin’s wheels, it points her toward a new horizon.
New Haven Connecticut’s Sam Carlson writes with an acerbic punch. With incisive and often satirical lyrics he explores a fascination with the mundane, good and bad uses of free time, radical honesty, and a fist full of bummers. He is currently making his second entirely self-performed and produced LP, and in the course of his young career has performed with the likes of Andy Shauf, Brooke Pridemore, Jake McKelvie, HNRY FLWRS, and Party of The Sun .