Sean Walshe

Sean Walshe – American Son (Self Released)

Sonically, Sean Walshe‘s music exists in a stratosphere that lies somewhere between John Cougar Mellencamp circa The Lonesome Jubilee, and the Mike Cooley-penned songs that are often among the highlights of many Drive-By Truckers albums. This is especially so on American Son‘s title track, which opens proceedings here. And I mean lyrically as well as musically, with socially aware prose such as “The poor are used as pawns, generations strung along, raised on welfare, lies and reruns / We have to teach them how to read, and to believe they can succeed, stop enslaving them to alms, I don’t see equality.” Beautifully put, and a great way to introduce yourself to a new audience, before the rest of the album brings an uptempo joy to rival Springsteen and the E Street Band‘s early recordings. ‘Fortune Favors The Brave‘ perhaps reflects this most effectively – jubilant saxophone and a feelgood anthem that’s full of the beer-swilling fun of, say, ‘Sherry Darling‘.

I hear a whole raft of classic rock and folk artists here amongst the viable influences – apart from those already listed, I would be surprised if, at some point, the likes of Steve Earle or Dylan haven’t played a part. But it’s Cooley I hear most on American Son, and as a huge fan of the Alabama band, I guess it’s hardly surprising that this record appeals to me. A lot.

The horns on ‘The Vibe Song‘ just kill me – they elevate what is already a gorgeous track to ‘classic’ status, and then, arguably confirming my Dylan suggestion, it is followed by the sublime ‘Highway 99‘, which, although undoubtedly bringing Bob to mind, actually reminds me of some of Stiff Records luminary Nick Lowe at his honky tonkiest best.

I’ll Believe In You‘ is probably the most folk/Americana type track of the lot, even giving a cheeky nod to The Beatles‘ ‘Come Together‘ at the last line of its chorus, before the glorious pedal steel of ‘Like No Other‘ shows us that Walshe is as adept at writing heartwarming love songs as he is with his socially aware observations: “I walk tall when she’s with me, our love is like no other, we live each day as a grateful victory.” So this is the more romantic, reflective part of the album, and then, when you think you’ve got a handle on everything, Walshe goes full reggae on you with ‘Price To Pay‘! Thankfully, he pulls it off, and how.

Granted, Sean Walshe has used a highly impressive supporting cast here from Kenny Aronoff to Beach Boys and Rolling Stones Collaborator Blondie Chaplin, from Ivan Neville (son of Aaron Neville) to the inimitable Nicholas Tremulis, with the Grammy Award-winning Rob Fraboni on production duties, but while they all do a grand job, it is still Walshe whose star that shines the brightest, having written these great tunes during a period of turmoil.

As Walshe himself explains: “I found myself at a place in life where I couldn’t just stay quiet any longer.  I had things to say.  I was making a living, could have just settled back… I dedicated myself to writing and recording a complete album; a big full-blown Rock/Americana album. I recorded an album 25 years ago with Rob in Austin in one of Willie Nelson’s studio’s. Once again, I had a stellar all-star cast in the studio. That album was never released.  I was struggling with my mental health.  I knew I wasn’t healthy enough to pull it off.  I faded away.  A big part of my motivation today is to address mental health and to wake up other artists to get in the game; use their voice and talents. I went back to my musical roots and set out to create songs that would make an impact; music that would touch people and influence other artists to create and be of service. There is enough greed, judgment and blame going on in the world.”

Well, fear not, Sean – these songs have touched me, and I have no doubt that they will touch others, maybe even help them through whatever difficult times they’re going through themselves. It’s a fabulous album. A standing ovation to all involved.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.