Chris Darling Reviews River Coffee by Sean McGowan

Sean McGowan
River Coffee
By Chris Darling

Well, in this huge world of music, with “umpteen” artists debuting their work way before their time, few artists I’ve come across match the readiness and musical knowledge of native Mainer, Sean McGowan. Throw in the sonically pure steel-string guitar prowess & Sean’s masterful delivery and this Solo Guitar (DEBUT) release River Coffee displays, and your in for a treat.

As a matter of fact, many artists, veteran or newcomer, will be “wowed” not only by the clean sonic presentations, deft with artful articulation on the guitar but the liner notes share the same thoughtful, insightful, qualities. Acoustic through & through, Sean invites you to hear his range in musical tastes by presenting the familiar Jazz pieces done eloquently, with originality & simply recorded.

But wait; don’t just expect a simple “glide” through some jazz guitar played like you’ve never heard! Sean does jazz guitar, paying homage to the greats; Miles, Monk, Duke Ellington, a touch of Bill Evans. He also does Ska. He does a funky strutting Improv piece where he says in his generous “journal-like” liner notes (for all you guitarists out there) “There are all kinds of mistakes but I wanted to leave everything in there and groove on it.” Myself, I’ve yet to find a mistake on this recording. The many voices within each piece defy explanation, well not really, for in these same articulate liner notes Sean tells of his playing techniques & reviews each tune and the project as a whole. This is a totally engaged artist and a totally engaging recording!

Sean’s study of music has led him from NYC’s High School for the Performing Arts, to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. This foundation laid the groundwork for becoming a master guitarist. His approach to all the tracks are “right there” for you to witness, likely, with your jaw on the floor, especially when you realize there are no overdubs. The disc includes six compositions of his own plus some “interpretations” inspired by the Great artists before him. The honest virtuosity shines on each track and this disc will get many, many spins from me.

This could be is the finest debut Acoustic Guitar release ever. The playing is tops, the liner notes exceptional! Acoustic Guitar lovers; this is a disc to hear and study! Master Guitarist Tuck Andress says it well, “Sean McGowan is the most promising young solo guitarist I’ve ever heard. His first CD, River Coffee, paints a broad, beautiful picture of his enormous virtuosity, unrelenting musicality, playful sense of humor and remarkable knowledge of musical history….Guitarists will weep yet laugh with delight as they try to figure out what he is doing, and history will remember Sean as one of the most important guitarists of his generation.”


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