To listen to and read about last week’s Dope Music artist, Ritual Dagger, click here
I struggled with this week’s choice. There’s a lot of music I’m excited to talk about, and I didn’t know which one to pick because I didn’t want to push the others farther back than they already are. Admittedly, all the artists and albums I want to discuss have been released for awhile. My promptness in music discovery is akin to Columbus. So I thought I’d keep my “late to the party,” theme and return to an artists I inexplicably fell out of patronage of for a few years, but have rediscovered with a vigor. This week’s dope music you’ve probably heard but I haven’t is Sean McConnell.
I first found Sean McConnell around my senior year of high school. He was of course already an established and successful artist at the time, but what I enjoyed about him was his uniqueness from the twangy, machismo Texas country artists I’d been listening to. He’s from their genre, no doubt, and there are plenty of McConnell’s songs that more than fit the mold of Texas Country, but he also has a purely musical side that doesn’t really seem to fit anywhere I’m familiar with. Call it Americana, or just songwriter if you absolutely have to categorize it.
McConnell’s latest album “Secondhand Smoke,” is what brought me back to fandom. I found it whilst listening to, I believe, Turnpike Troubadours Apple Radio. “I Could Have Been An Angel,” the only song off the album slotted as a single, came on, and I instantly clicked over to the album. “I Could Have Been An Angel,” starts off with a deep, soulful acoustic guitar that introduces McConnell’s iconically woeful voice that always seems to sound like he’s on the verge of choking back sorrow. The song is admittedly a tad dramatic, but between McConnell’s perfect tuning of the lyrics and the guitar and fiddle interwoven it’s just the right amount of self pity to put on when one’s feeling particularly forlorn.
The rest of the album is in surprising contrast to “I Could Have Been An Angel’s” sorrow. The title track is a warm homage, and light reflections and muses scatter throughout the 13 song album. Like all his albums, Sean displays his unbelievable vocal range, a talent I first experienced when I inadvertently attended an acoustic set he did one Christmas with Randy Rogers. I went to see Randy, but left more grateful for being able to listen to McConnell.
Sean McConnell is, to me, transcendent of any one particular label. His deceptive accent and fondness for lyrics on dusty towns and love sacrificed suggests Texas Country, but his musical production place him closer to Mayer, Dylan, and Blake than Randy Rogers or Aaron Watson. This diversity makes his talent attractive regardless of how many Tony Llamas or pearl snaps you have in your closet.
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