I have always considered myself a singer-songwriter in search of a great rock and roll band. I wrote the songs and sent the demos to Rob and to Nick. We are a great team with a common faith and a common goal to create music that moves you, speaks to your heart, and gets your feet moving; all at the same time.
If you're going to put a band together to record an album... for me, it starts with the heartbeat—the rhythm section. You can't do better than Kenny Aronoff on drums. KENNY ARONOFF, world-renowned drummer for Mellencamp and Fogerty, amongst so many others. Next, add the rock solid bass playing of Derek Brand, (NTO) and you have your pulse. Add Nick Tremulis, the Musical Mayor of Chicago, and you've got all the heart you could ask for... Nick is a musical genius who is loved and respected by all the great players in Chi-town. I asked him to invite them some of his friends; horns, strings, choir, percussion, accordion, pedal steel...they all showed up; in a big way!
Ivan Neville, Blondie Chaplin, Paul Von Mertens, Woody Goss, Susan Voelz... the list goes on and on
TALK ABOUT SOUL...
For a guy who hadn't played or been in a studio in 20 years, I was blessed to work with incredible players. I told Rob that I heard a big record... horns, strings, choir... If I was going to take a shot, I was going big.
Their musicianship, creativity and camaraderie were amazing. There was a great vibe in the studio.
A truly fabulous experience.
“Man.. great f****g sounds, feel, parts playing, singing and the mixes are stellar.. Good God.. wow.. Thanks for including me.. This is the best thing I have heard and felt in a long time. The spirit and feel of this record is f****g great.. AUTHENTIC and real.. Amazing.” Kenny Aronoff
“American Son is a vital record that speaks with real feeling and emotion. Finally some meaningful lyrical content, it gets better the more often one listens. There are few records released today that are this kind of gift. From the songs to the musicians’ passionate performances this is as good as it gets.” Rob Fraboni
"...it’s such a pleasure to hear the finished record; all the passion and lived experience that you put into it shines through. Heartfelt songwriting and performances from everyone involved make the the music come alive. Powerful performances beautifully captured.
Looking forward to more great things".
Paul Mertens: Brian Wilson Band Arranger
“ Good God…wow…This is the best thing I have heard and felt in a long time. The spirit and
feel of this record is f…ing great…AUTHENTIC and real… Amazing!”
It takes a special effort to earn an accolade like that, especially when it comes from a musician who’s played with some of the biggest names in the biz. But with one listen to American Son, the superb new album from Sean Walshe, it becomes readily apparent that that critique is well-deserved.
“I have a vision,” Walshe insists. “It's bigger than most. Some may consider me naïve. Others might look at me as arrogant. I would like to think that I am purposeful.”
American Son proves the point, courtesy of a set of decidedly demonstrative songs.. Packed with incisive melodies—the assured and determined title track, the rugged and resolute “Winds of Change,” the driving and deliberate “Fortune Favors the Brave'' and “Highway 99,” the commanding and compelling “Like No Other,” and the Neil Young-flavored “Emmet’s Song”—it marks the sound of an artist who’s infused with the influences of classic auteurs like Tom Petty, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, and yes, Bruce Springsteen, but clearly follows his own muse.
Granted, those are heady comparisons, but with a supporting cast of extraordinary musicians—Aronoff on drums, Beach Boys and Brian Wilson collaborator Blondie Chaplin on guitar and vocals, the legendary Ivan Neville contributing piano and B-3, Paul Von Mertens on sax and arrangements, indie auteur Nicholas Tremulis handling guitars, co-production, and arrangements, and Walshe himself on vocals, guitar, and harmonica, among the many—American Son rings and resonates with the steady sounds of authentic heartland rock and roll. And decisive, it’s an unrelenting statement about the power and prowess of an artist who clearly knows what he needs to succeed and makes an assertive stance while gravitating towards that goal.
As the title of one of songs says, “B Who U R.,” Sean absolutely identifies with that mantra. “Free to be who you can be,” the song declares over the blazing horns that help define its delivery.
“I wanted to write an album that had the effect on people that albums used to have on me,” Sean insists. “I wanted it to be a complete package, flush with infectious melodies and searing instrumental solos. I aimed to share lyrics that would touch the listener emotionally and allow them to identify with the song, and hopefully even sing along.”
Sean has clearly succeeded. The verve and variety share a range of emotions and reflections that seize the soul, touch the heart, and evoke feelings common to all in these decidedly troubled times. “I aimed to vary the template,” Sean continues. “I wanted story songs with a specific narrative—songs that spoke of the things we’ve experienced at this particular place in our history. There are songs about love and songs about loss. I also decided to end the album with a prayer. I believe our nation needs one.”
In fact, that closing track, a clear and compelling original take on “The Lord’s Prayer,” with a stirring arrangement by Paul Von Mertens (Brain Wilson's arranger), offers the optimism and affirmation he speaks of.
Produced, mixed, and mastered by Rob Fraboni, the man behind the boards for Bob Dylan, The Band, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Tim Hardin, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, and Bonnie Raitt, among many others, American Son was recorded at Rax-Trax Studio in Chicago and Bill’s Studio in Los Angeles and mixed at Carriage House Studios in Stamford Connecticut. The album was recorded by Rick Barnes and William Sullivan and engineered by McLee Mathias.
Fraboni himself sums its strengths up succinctly: “ American Son is a vital record that speaks with real feeling and emotion. Given its meaningful lyrical content, it gets better the more one listens. There are few records released today that are this kind of gift. From the songs to the musicians’ passionate performances, this is as good as it gets.”
“It’s such a pleasure,” Von Mertens, who also does arrangements for the Brian Wilson band, concurred. “All the passion and lived experience put into it shines through. The heartfelt songwriting and performances from everyone involved make the music come alive… These are powerful performances beautifully captured. I’m looking forward to more great things from Sean.”
As for Sean himself, he’s determined to pursue his vision and make the music he feels he was always destined to. He is, after all, a man whose drive is matched only by his determination.
“I've been in forty foot waves on a processing boat, six days from the land,” he insists. “I've been locked in the wing of a maximum security prison; tasked with rehabilitating 86 felons with no one there to protect me. Suffice it to say, I do not scare or get discouraged easily.”
To that point, he shares a favorite saying: "Faith is a four letter word. And it’s spelled R.I.S.K.”
Happily, the risk and the faith have paid off.
FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE
And then one day you say, "I've got to do this.
I don't care what the odds are."
I had worked on a record with Rob Fraboni over 20 years ago. When I first met him, I had just completed 18 months of crab fishing in the Bering Sea. I wrote most of the record out at sea and had grandiose ambitions. We recorded in Austin; had fabulous players involved and was getting ready to mix the record when my life took a turn—a big turn. But that’s a story for another day.
The next 20 years reshaped my faith, my character, and my determination. As fate would have it, Rob and I were randomly scheduled to be in Chicago at the same time. I was blessed to meet up with him at Rax Trax studio; he and Nick Tremulis were recording Nick's fabulous record "Rarified World."
I was inspired. Started writing. Started praying. Started to think big. I would need a great band for the record I was hearing in my head; and man, did they show up!! A wonderful bunch of merry minstrels... we hit the studio. Then Rob and I went out to L.A. to get Blondie on the record. How fun was that?! Now one last stop in Chicago for the finishing touches... including adding Ivan Neville's rockin' magic.
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