In the past 2 years, Shawn Clarke has released his debut album "Like Birds Too Tired to Fly", which Exclaim! called "A Thoroughly endearing portrait", and band-driven 5 song EP "Stray Birds". Shawn has toured Ontario and played solo shows throughout the East Coast, also playing the prestigious North By North East festival on numerous occasions. In 2011 Toronto Exclusive Magazine awarded him "Best Folk Album" for "Like Birds...", and "Best folk song" for "To Think I Once Was Lost".
As a songwriter, his goal has been to simplify music and melodies, bringing the subjects of his lyrics to the foreground. Although sometimes subtly, his influences include Tom Waits, Leon Redbone, Wilco, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan and the films of Woody Allen to name a few. In addition to his solo work, Shawn has contributed to the Gypsy-folk collective Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, and gothic blues act Timber Timbre.
"Shawn's music contains two things that I love: space and simplicity. Nothing is overplayed, it's wonderfully subtle and understated. And the simplicity reveals itself in immediately identifiable themes and accessible songs. It is really a great record!" - Craig Norris, CBC Radio 3
"Finger picking guitar, banjo and nice sunshine filled vocals fight the steel and sadness that permeate his thoughts and support from many of his talented friends (Olenka, Nick Zubeck and Wilderness of Manitoba to name a few) give this effort a professional, enjoyable feel" - Herohill
"Shawn Clarke's mellow folk songs have the tart aftertaste of sharp wit, a winning combination" - Rachael Sanders, Exclaim! Magazine
- Featured on CBC radio 3 Track of the Day June 30 2010
- Featured on CBC Artist Series (Olenka Krakus)
- Played the NXNE music festival 2011, 2012
- Performed at the 2013 Canadian Music Week
- Awarded "Folk Album of the year" by Toronto Exclusive Magazine 2011
- Awarded "Folk Song of the Year" (for To Think I Once Was Lost) by Toronto Exclusive Magazine 2011
- Debut album was released in 2010, it received critical acclaim and charted on campus radio
- Filmed with popular Canadian video site "Southern Souls" and popular international video site "Balcony TV"
- Performed in the 2012 Indieweek festival in Toronto
Shawn Clarke - Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Songwriter
Mark Hart - Banjo, Guitar, mandolin
Sara Ciantar - Accordion, Harmony Vocals
"Like Birds, Too Tired to Fly" 2010
"Stray Birds EP" 2012
A Song Of Peace (A Protest Song)
To Think I Once Was Lost
I'll Miss You When You're Gone
NOW Magazine Review (4 out of 5)
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Though he keeps a relatively low profile, Shawn Clarke has contributed to two of the better Toronto-...Though he keeps a relatively low profile, Shawn Clarke has contributed to two of the better Toronto-area folk rock bands, namely Timber Timbre and Olenka and the Autumn Lovers. Clarke skews closer to traditional acoustic folk on his debut solo LP, but his simple, understated arrangements highlight his gift for lyrics.
Clarke’s wit shows through on tracks like Sick Song, which attaches a gorgeous melody to mundane lyrics about watching television and checking email. Secret Bear paints an impressively authentic three-dimensional picture of a new relationship, while Hurt Before does the same for a breakup. His best love song, though, To Think I Once Was Lost, is addressed to Toronto.
Clarke’s vocals can get a bit nondescript, but instrumental and vocal contributions from Nick Zubeck, Olenka and the Wilderness of Manitoba nicely augment the minimalism.
Top track: To Think I Once Was Lost
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Shawn Clarke's mellow folk songs have the tart aftertaste of sharp wit, a winning combination from a...Shawn Clarke's mellow folk songs have the tart aftertaste of sharp wit, a winning combination from a musician who has previously worked with Olenka and the Autumn Lovers and Timber Timbre. The Toronto, ON songwriter keeps it simple on his solo debut, with subtle banjo, violin and the occasional thrill of slide guitar embellishing his acoustic guitar. His lovely instrumental numbers ("I'll Miss You When You're Gone" and "Requiem for 33 Yale") demonstrate his ability to create an appealing atmosphere. But the highlights of the album are the moments when Clarke combines cheerful melodies with acerbic lyrics, such as on "Sick Song," where his wry self-pity is played against the warm vocal harmonies of Toronto band the Wilderness of Manitoba. "Hurt Before" is another devilish pleasure; the song's unexpected profanity and wishy-washy animosity combine to create a thoroughly endearing portrait of the proverbial spurned lover.
By Rachel Sanders
CBC Radio 3 (Craig Norris)
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I think I've written and said this before, but one of the real treats of a festival like NXNE is tha...I think I've written and said this before, but one of the real treats of a festival like NXNE is that it allows me to meet musicians. Sure, the live music is exciting and cool, but it's the people that really make is interesting for me.
Last week, I hosted the NXEW.ca Showcase at The Gladstone here in Toronto. The bill included Olenka & The Autumn Lovers - a band that I have been dying to see live for a while! Their set was incredible and I was approached by their sax player, Shawn Clarke, and he handed me his new, solo disc "Like Birds Too Tired To Fly".
It is a beautiful thing.
Shawn also contributes to Timber Timbre, and it's towards that vibe that his solo stuff leans. Although, that's misleading, too. Shawn's music contains two things that I love: space and simplicity. Nothing is overplayed, it's wonderfully subtle and understated. And the simplicity reveals itself in immediately identifiable themes and accessible songs. It is really a great record!
Here is a song featuring Olenka!
Hero Hill album review
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Often times when a musician offers support for a diverse collection of bands, they retreat to a mo...
Often times when a musician offers support for a diverse collection of bands, they retreat to a more standard sound as a personal escape. For Shawn Clarke, a TO singer/songwriter that has worked with Olenka & The Autumn Lovers and Timber Timbre, that retreat results in some Paul Simon-ish folk melodies that invite the listener to feel like a part of the experience.
On a casual glance you might see that Clarke cites influences like Tom Waits, Radiohead and Wilco and get some preconceived ideas about his desired sound or the amount of experimentation he brings to the table. Truth be told, I don’t really hear any of their influence (other than the name drop on Sick Song) and think people will find more similarities with modern pop-folker Matt Costa (just listen to Hurt Before). Clarke prefers to work with more traditional acoustic sounds, and even when he moves into a moody atmospheric vibe (I’ll Miss You When You’re Gone is a good example) he doesn’t push the limits enough to lose the listener.
That’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is. Sure, Clarke isn’t breaking much new ground on this release but the beauty of creating enjoyable acoustic numbers we can simply enjoy is that he doesn’t have to. Finger picking guitar, banjo and nice sunshine filled vocals fight the steel and sadness that permeate his thoughts and support from many of his talented friends (Olenka, Nick Zubeck and Wilderness of Manitoba to name a few) give this effort a professional, enjoyable feel. Even though he can stand on his own – the Teitur inspired Behind You and Secret Bear prove that – he is smart enough to add new layers or female harmonies on the lovely Sick Song and Empty House to flesh out his confessions and keep the listener engaged.
No Depression.com review
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There's a deceptive simplicity to the arrangements on Shawn Clarke's debut full length release. With...There's a deceptive simplicity to the arrangements on Shawn Clarke's debut full length release. With his clear agreeable voice and a sweetly folky style of finger-picking, the subversiveness of many of Shawn Clarke's lyrics may not be immediately evident. With the exception of the gleefully repeated chorus of "fuck you, I hate you, fuck you, no I don't" on Hurt Before, the caustic emotions behind many of the lyrics are rather more subtle.
The tracks comprising Like Birds, Too Tired To Fly are a pleasing mix of toe-tapping banjo (Working Man), sweetly crying guitars (Empty House), upbeat finger-picking (Hurt Before), and quiet introspection (I'll Miss You When You're Gone). The lovely To Think I Once Was Lost is a particularly noteworthy track, a love song to Toronto, made sweetly poignant with gorgeous harmonies and weeping instrumentation.
Shawn Clarke has called in some big guns to back him on Like Birds, Too Tired To Fly. With the backing of Olenka Krakus (Olenka and the Autumn Lovers), The Wilderness of Manitoba, Nick Zubeck, Mark Hart (Carly and Mark), and Rebecca Rowen (Kensington Prairies), this album is elevated from a simple acoustic effort into a fully rounded offering.
There's an autobiographical feel to many of the tracks on this album. Although the decidedly anecdotal nature of Sick Song conjures up flashbacks of that Family Guy episode in which Randy Newman makes up songs about what he sees, it's still a fun ditty, with a charming la-de-dah chorus that's difficult to resist.
Requiem for 33 Yale, an instrumental piece, is cleverly placed as the lead-in song to the final track, Untitled, which serves as a tutorial about songwriting and the elusiveness of lyrics. The latter part of this song ultimately showcases the power of the backing talent lending their voices to this album. When that final chorus begins and builds into a pinnacle of of la-la-las, words seem completely unnecessary.
Snobsmusic Album Review
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8.5 out of 10 One thing I learned very quickly when I began blogging in earnest was that there is...8.5 out of 10
One thing I learned very quickly when I began blogging in earnest was that there is no shortage of artists who want their music heard and reviewed. The second thing I learned was that a lot of them played boring ass folk music.
Although he plays folk, Toronto-based Shawn Clarke is anything but boring. His new record, Like Birds Too Tired To Fly, is his debut full length.
Clarke's music is quite refreshing in the folk genre. First, it's refreshing to see an artist not ashamed to use his own name rather than a silly moniker like Iron & Iver. More importantly though, while the clever lyrics are the star of the show, he knows that you can simply slap a half-thought out guitar behind them and make a song engaging for the listener.
Clarke's arrangements may be simple, but they definitely provide a pop that is sorely lacking in most indie folk. That's what makes a song like the Josh Ritter-meets-Nick Drake "Song for Kathleen" so compelling. Singable hooks on songs like "Hurt Before" don't hurt either.
Lyrically Clarke demonstrates a keen wit. His tale of trying to occupy his time on a sick day, "Sick Song", seems to draw inspiration directly from Tom Waits' humorous tales of the mundane. The story of finding love at an industrial show (my money's on Ministry), "Secret Bear", is another prime example. And who doesn't love a tribute to your town like "To Think I Was Once Lost".
In the past Clarke has worked with local groups like Olenka & the Autumn Lovers and Timber Timbre. He's not afraid to cash those chips in as we get contributions here from Olenka, Nick Zubeck, Mark Hart, and Rebecca Rowen.
It all comes together to make a startling debut, and one of the best Canadian albums of 2010 so far. Pencil Like Birds Too Tired To Fly into the 2011 Polaris long list right now.
45 minutes - 1:45 hour
From Orillia to Toronto
I'll Miss You When You're Gone
Song for Kathleen
Sound of Ticking and Tocking
Zombies Clash Cars and Kinks
I Blame the Loyalist Ghost
To Think I Once Was Lost
Love, Death and Other Ailments
Behind You All the Way
Ocean of Noise (Arcade Fire)
One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan)
To Ramona (Bob Dylan)
The Man in Me (Bob Dylan)
Crying (Roy Orbison)
Deep Blue Sea (Grizzly Bear)
Good Til Now (Gillian Welsh)
Make Me Down a Pallet on your Floor (Gillian Welsh)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.