Sean McConnell
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Sean McConnell

Nashville, TN | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE | AFTRA

Nashville, TN | INDIE | AFTRA
Established on Jan, 2006
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter

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From the first few notes of Sean McConnell’s new self-titled album, you’ll be convinced he’s about to break out. McConnell’s record has all the makings of a country hit. It’s laden with hooks and McConnell’s warm rasp, and the songs are big and shiny. His songwriting is honest, and though he’s skilled at crafting an earworm, he isn’t overly produced or commercialized. He’s the type of country artist we all want more of on the radio. A skilled songwriter turned performer.

McConnell starts off big with “Holy Days”, a nostalgic look back at a reckless first love experience that checks all of the country song boxes. Within the first few lines, we get a mention of a Texaco station, a radio playing, summer rain, and a rolling stone of a daddy. It isn’t hard to imagine a bigger, flashier star covering this one, but McConnell does it more justice than anyone ever could. He’s a strong singer, and he makes you feel the thrill and adrenaline of fast, youthful love.

Even his more understated songs, like the quiet, lovely “One Acre of Land” sounds like it belongs on the radio. We’re reminded throughout the record that McConnell has written for Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts, just to name a few, as well as Nashville, the TV show. With his dark, tousled hair and black-rimmed glasses, he isn’t the typical country Ken doll, but his talent speaks for itself. He can tell a story tightly and succinctly, and deliver it with plenty of romance, emotion and authenticity.

Sean McConnell captures the rawness we all appreciate in good country music. “Ghost Town” is the one-horse town story of moving on to bigger things, “Hey Mary” is the ode to the girl next door, and “Queen of Saint Mary’s” is an autobiographical tune about McConnell coming into his own with folk singer parents, and ultimately, returning to his roots. “I came up a music man,” he sings. Something tells me he’ll stay that way. - No Depression


Boston native Sean McConnell has been a presence in country and roots music since the early 2000s, releasing a string of highly regarded independent albums and writing songs for major artists like Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride, and Brad Paisley, among others. With his rich, warm tenor and melodic, pop-Americana sound, he's seemed poised for a breakout for a number of years. A decade-and-a-half after self-releasing his debut (at the age of 15), the life-long independent makes his label debut on Rounder Records. Recorded and produced in Nashville by Ian Fitchuk and Jason Lehning, this self-titled ten-song set offers a sound that is rooted in county, but borrows from the soaring melodic notions of contemporary indie folk. There was always an inward-looking nature to McConnell's earlier albums, but here he delves even more deeply into his own past, wielding his nostalgia in autobiographical vignettes that reveal childhood experiences, people he's loved, street names, and deep-seated emotions. From the haunted reflections of heartland rocker "Ghost Town" to the earnest "guitar kid from Hudson" in lead single "Queen of St. Mary's Choir," he paints a vivid picture of his life's journey from naive teenager to Nashville songsmith and family man. The production is fairly robust, though not so slick that it detracts from McConnell's soulful, earthy delivery. He's not really breaking any new ground musically and there are plenty of singer/songwriters working in this familiar milieu of introspective roots-pop, but McConnell's innate earnestness and hard-earned sense of craft ultimately carry him on this solid release. - AllMusic


There's a beauty and a nuance to every lyric written by Sean McConnell on his new introspective self-titled album. Even the opener, a Petty-ish heartland rocker called "Holy Days" feels personal. It's the kind of song that showcases why Sean McConnell has become one the go to songsmiths around Music Row and Texas. "Ghost Town" is perhaps the best song about our memories of youth and small towns I've heard (only rivaled by a song written and recently-recorded by Lori McKenna). A jangl-y slice of roots rock, the song also allows McConnell to showcase his pristine tenor, a voice unlike anyone in the country/rock world of today.

"Queen of Saint Mary's Choir" has a buoyancy to it that recalls Springsteen's vignettes of real people and real life and in this one, it's basically as personal as a song can get yet it feels like it could be MY story too, the best any song can hope for. That Springsteen spirit comes alive on "Bottom of the Sea" while "One Acre Of Land" feels as if McConnell is channeling the ghost of Harry Chapin.

It's a rare aire list of writers and poets from which I'm comparing Sean McConnell to but it's not often that a brilliant songwriter like Sean McConnell comes along at a point when the collective world needs him. "Babylon" is as honest a portrait of America as any song I've heard and it's high time a talented writer and artist like Sean McConnell gains attention for creating real, honest and damn good music like he does on this, his Rounder Records debut. - Roughstock


Texas Music Pickers sat down with Sean McConnell last Friday to discuss his latest release, “The B-Side Session-EP”. Written and produced by McConnell himself, this 5 track EP is full of emotion, amazing vocals, and song writing artistry at its best.

McConnell described the album as a “bridge between Midland and [the] next full-length album. It gives me some new material to have on tour and bring to the shows. These were songs that maybe didn’t fit Midland, or may or may not be on the next one…Just songs I’m excited about now, that I wanted to release to people. It started off as just a side record, an ‘in the meantime project,’ but once I started on it, I fell in love with it and ended up spending a lot more time on it.”

What’s unbelievable about this album is that it was recorded in less than 24 hours. McConnell described it as a “pretty concentrated time of creativity.” He gives a lot of the credit to the musicians he worked with saying, “They were pros. The band part was done in about 4 hours.” He went on to say “most of it was done live, all together, and afterwards, I went back and sang over it the same day.” Wow! (What can you do in 24 hours?)

The EP offers a lot of introspection, as McConnell pours his soul into every song. The first track, “Bottom of the Sea,” was written while McConnell was on a writing trip. “It was the last day and I had written a bunch, and I was kind of tired. I really didn’t think much was going to happen. I picked up this guitalele….and it just fell out of the sky.” One of the deepest (no pun intended) songs on the album, it describes the contemplation of finding oneself. McConnell sees it as a song “about living life intentionally.” Like most of the tracks on this EP, the song packs a powerful message, yet the tempo keeps it fun.

When we asked about the 2nd track, “California”, McConnell just laughed and said, “Uhh….that’s one …..I probably won’t talk about (laughter). It can be interpreted in whatever way you want it to be.” So we just left that one at that — Although since the interview I have gone back and listened to the song with the intention of figuring it out and…I have nothing….

The 3rd track on the EP, “The Magician,” McConnell wrote 5 or 6 years ago. He just could never find the right place for it, and was excited that this EP “was the perfect place to finally release it.” The song is about being fooled by what looks like love. Someone might “bring you flowers and all of that stuff,” but a lot of time it’s just “smoke and mirrors.” This track is the most instrumental and the fastest; it’s the one you sing to as loud as you can when no one is looking (I may or may not be talking about myself).

McConnell follows “The Magician” with “Rock & Roll”, which he describes as one of his most favorite songs he’s ever written. The song details the alluding authenticity of music these days. McConnell commented, “Music these days can be so processed and contrived, not all music, but a good portion of it can be. [This song] talks about me wanting the opposite of that.” We think McConnell’s aim to be original and unique is one of the biggest things that sets him apart in the music scene. Like his music or not, one thing that’s for sure, his music is most certainly not contrived.

The B-Side Session concludes with “Praise the Lord” a song McConnell said is “the story of when God became bigger than I ever imagined he could be.” In our opinion it’s one of the most spiritual songs you will hear in this scene and it’s refreshing to see an artist open up spiritually on their album and talk about their personal beliefs.

When we asked McConnell if there was anything else he’d like people to know about the album, he said, “Umm….buy it! (laughter).” While known for being a fantastic song writer, he has a pretty good sense of humor too! - Texas Music Pickers


Relatively unknown to mainstream success, singer/songwriter, Sean McConell has been writing and recording music for over 10 years. McConnell’s songs have been covered by everyone from American Idol contestant, Jason Castro to country superstar, Tim McGraw and he has exploded in the Texas music scene. Sean McConnell delivers his most accessible and strongest album to date with Saints, Thieves, & Liars which blends his Americana/R & B sound with introspective lyrics alongside a soulful vocal rang. McConnell’s sound is very unique in that it pulls from soul, country, folk, and R & B but it his beautiful lyrics and touching songs that separate him from most mainstream music out there right now.

McConnell brings his Motown influence on "Maybe You Can Love Me Anyway "which gives him a chance to stretch those amazing pipes. More rock tinged tunes such as the spiritually fueled "Saints Heart in a Sinner’s Skin" and the Springsteen rocker, "Caroline" proves McConnell is not all folk singer, as he can turn it up to 11 when he wants. Standout tracks to me are the rootsy Whiskeytown inspired, "A Prayer You Can Borrow," and the hope inspiring, "Somewhere Beautiful" that showcase his melody driven rock while never sacrificing his roots. Fans of Americana, alternative country, and folk music and artists such as Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, and Martin Sexton will love Saints, Thieves, & Liars. - Glide Magazine


Look into the dull eyes of Jenny, the waitress in the brooding composition “Midland,” and you might recognize yourself. The title track of Americana singer-songwriter Sean McConnell‘s latest album chronicles her mundane existence in a place where there’s “no one to serve, just time to kill.” If boredom doesn’t slay her, cigarettes just might. Despite being anchored to a less than idyllic life, she remains unbowed. A weaker woman might crumble beneath the weight of her disappointment; Jenny’s head isn’t exactly held high, but it’s turned toward the horizon.

Midland is not simply a geographic location – a barely visible speck in a vast world – but a state of mind. Inevitably, people come to emotional crossroads in their lives, caught between lust and love, pain and pride, anxiety and acceptance. Whether you’re an inhabitant of a bustling metropolis or a one-light town, the seemingly forgotten dreamer embodied by Jenny lives in all of us. The question is whether we manage to make it out of turbulent times with our hearts and minds intact. In Jenny’s case, there is no clear resolution, but a strange comfort can be found in the way that she presses on in the midst of her own desolation. Part cautionary tale and part stark portrait of reality, “Midland” necessarily sets the stage for listeners to fully appreciate the highly-charged songs that follow it.

McConnell knows something about standing at life’s crossroads. His music meets at the intersection between country and rock (with a generous helping of soul thrown in for good measure). He’s old enough to fondly recall the past, but young enough to embrace new challenges. He’s a Nashville resident who is also a favorite in the Texas music scene.

A prolific songwriter who’s penned songs recorded by Wade Bowen, the Randy Rogers Band, Tim McGraw, and Rascal Flatts among many others, McConnell is a powerful artist in his own right. His lyrics can be blunt, humorous, or poetic, but most important is his consistent sincerity. He injects each song with honesty and surrounds himself with people who respect and enhance his vision.

Although people flit in and out of Jenny’s life, McConnell assembles a strong team to assist him on Midland. Friends like Bowen (who harmonizes on the title track), Lori McKenna, and co-writer Jason Saenz lend their voices to the project. A first-rate band gathers around McConnell to breathe life into his songs, including producer Brian Pruitt, Alison Prestwood, Dan Dugmore, Tony Harrell, Jedd Hughes, and Billy Justineau. Whether bringing forth the ominous tones of “Lord It’s Gonna Rain” or emphasizing the sweet nostalgia of “Suppertime,” Pruitt highlights each musician’s skill while still maintaining a cohesive sound.

Midland is full of stirring compositions. Not coincidentally, the title track is followed by “Save Our Soul,” an insistent, foot-stomping call for a musical reawakening. Fans of the ABC soap opera Nashville may recognize the torrid single “Kiss.” However, it’s a trio of softer numbers that showcase McConnell at his best.

Backed by the sweet trill of McKenna and plenty of weeping pedal steel, “Suppertime” recalls a time when the most important thing in an adolescent’s life was coming together with his family. Reflecting on long-gone innocence, McConnell expresses appreciation for less hectic times: “Can’t you just hear it like a long lost song/Makes me want to sing along/And hold on to every moment till it’s gone.”

Heart-tugging ballad “I Didn’t Want To Love You Anyway” is a hit waiting to happen. McConnell’s delivery gives the impression that each confession is being ripped from his throat as he lays himself bare before the woman who rejects him. “You don’t even cross my mind…more than a hundred times a day,” he reluctantly acknowledges, a number that increases throughout the length of the song. In a blistering burst of defiance he dismisses any overtures of comfort from his beloved: “I don’t need your sympathy/Girl, don’t act like you ruined me/And don’t you dare speak my name when you pray,” he snarls. Ultimately, he can’t even fool himself with stubborn denials.

The album’s closer “Old Brown Shoes” is a sparse, candid tribute to the loss of a loved one. Searching for answers and faith, McConnell sifts through his relative’s personal effects, concluding that until the men can meet face to face again he’ll “stumble around in [his] old brown shoes.” The song speaks reverently of a man well-loved and a life well-lived. At this particular emotional crossroad, McConnell emerges with peace in his heart. Much like his earlier protagonist Jenny, he simply turns his head to the sky and waits. After all, time moves slow in Midland.

Writer’s note: I’m not certain I’ve expressed myself as clearly as I wanted. Seriously, just pick up this album. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and Sean McConnell’s official site. - Good Night Hestia


Sean McConnell’s set at the local bar usually feels more like hearing a gifted speaker than a gifted musician (although he certainly is a gifted guitarist and singer). His 2010 album “Saints, Thieves, and Liars” struck a chord with all sorts of audiences, as it contemplated both the lows and the highs of life, the mundane and the eternal. It was a release full of thoughtfulness in a market full of the same old love songs. With lyrics about beauty, meaning, and hope, he set the bar high when it came to content. I was ecstatic as I downloaded his follow up, “Midland”.

After one listen through of “Midland”, my ecstasy turned to disappointment. My first impression was that Sean had lowered his lyrical standards, conforming more to the subject matter of the bands around him in the Texas country scene. The song “Novocaine”, describing the high of knowing a girl’s love, especially felt base compared to what I was used to from him. I put the album away for a while, but it got a second chance when it found it’s way back into my cd player just in time for a four hour road trip. It’s on this dusty road trip that the equally valid truths of “Midland” came into clarity.

“Saints, Thieves, and Liars” gave us a zoomed-out, big picture view of the beauty and despair that we find in our lives; “Midland” offers us a scope of everyday life, if not the more broken and sad parts. Instead of speaking philosophically, he tells stories. In multiple songs, he speaks candidly of a broken heart and the awkwardness of an imminent breakup – I think you’ll find his portrayal is spot on. He mourns death, and longs for the day when he will be re-united with his loved ones. Like the town itself, “Midland” feels dusty and unpolished. Even the recording style (live in the studio) lends itself to feeling gritty. I originally disliked it because it was not as lofty as “ST&L”, but I came to realize that the grittiness was something I could relate to. It was ordinary in all the right ways. After some time to become familiar, his stories rang true in my heart. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

“Midland” – The title track is about Jenny from Midland, Texas. We see Jenny go through “another here we go again” day as a waitress at Joe’s bar and grill. Even though you only see one day in her life, you get the feeling that this boring day indicates a larger theme of stagnancy in her life. Don’t we all know a Jenny, who wishes they were somewhere else, doing something else?

“Let Me Go” – The man in this song knows his relationship is as good as over, and he elects to settle it and try and move on, instead of letting it drag. The bridge’s lyrics indicates the pain in this decision:”could you just spring this trap, unwrap me from your finger- the least that you can do is not let it linger.” The picture he paints is sad, and accurate.

“Suppertime” – The scene he sets in this song is from a simpler time, it’s quite nostalgic. I was immediately brought back to Thanksgivings of younger years, images in my head of “cowboys and indians” in the park with my cousins.

“Old Brown Shoes” – This tearjerker tells the story of a man trying to let go of a loved one who has passed away some time ago. He concludes in the final verse: “The older I get, the more I know that I will see you again. We’ll talk man to man, but until we do, I’m gonna stumble around in your old brown shoes.” The instrumental accompaniment sets the mood perfectly, and goes on for two minutes after Sean’s stopped singing. It is a perfect time of contemplation after a story who’s sorrow we can all relate to. The instrumental outro is probably my favorite moment on the album.

“Midland” is a special part of Sean’s collection. The man clearly has a gift for describing the world around him, and his new album samples moments of life that will send you back to the highs and lows of yours. “Midland” will be rotating through my 6-cd changer for the foreseeable future. - Nathan Bonnes' Song Writings


Sean McConnell has seen his songs recorded by Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, the Eli Young Band and the cast of TV's Nashville, among many others. He's also put out a handful of well-received albums of his own. But his new set on Rounder is his most accomplished yet, and reflects both finely honed songcraft and emotional depth. Among the standouts: the wistful "Holy Days," the Mellencampian "Ghost Town," future Valentine's Day standard "Best We've Ever Been" and the exquisite "Queen of Saint Mary's Choir." His voice sounds gorgeous, and the production—by the Nashville team of Ian Fitchuk and Jason Lehning—is crystalline. Is McConnell ready to become a star himself? Judging by this stellar set, we'd say yes. - Hits Daily Double


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Sean McConnell demonstrates exactly
why McConnell has already won such a devoted audience.  He writes vivid, forthright, effortlessly
catchy songs whose incisive melodic craft is matched by their resonant
emotional insight.  Such instantly
memorable tunes as "Holy Days," "Beautiful Rose,"
"Bottom of the Sea" and "Best We've Ever Been" are both
catchy and personally charged, conveying an unmistakable sense of personal
experience while exploring universal truths.

"This record's a bit of a step for me," McConnell
asserts.  "It's a real storyteller
record, and it's pretty autobiographical. 
I'm learning how to be more honest and understated in my writing, and I
wanted to match that sonically and vocally. 
When I look at this collection of songs, I see a lot of nostalgia, and
looking back on sacred moments.  I'm kind
of nostalgic and reflective by nature." 

McConnell recorded the album in his adopted hometown of Nashville
with producers Jason Lehning and Ian Fitchuk, who also contributed keyboards
and drums, respectively.  The recording
took place prior to McConnell signing with Rounder, with the artist financing
the sessions himself.


"This project started," he explains, "when I went
to a cabin by myself for a week, with the intention of writing some songs.  In that week, I wrote about half of the songs
on the record, and I could see the thread of what this record was gonna
be.  That was exciting for me, because it
normally takes me a year to find an album's worth of songs that belong
together.  The whole recording process
was really fun and liberating, and the energy in the studio was really
positive." 

"I'm really attracted to songwriters who just put it out
there honestly, and I feel like I'm getting back to basics and expressing
things in a simple, direct way on the new album," he continues.  "I'm just trying to learn how to be a
more honest storyteller, trying to get my mind in a place where I'm not
actually thinking and the music's just kind of happening naturally.  When I read interviews with songwriters that
I admire, they always say that the best songs are the ones that just kind of
happen, like they're operating from the unconscious.  That's a place I want to get to." 

Having spent much of his life honing his craft and paying his
dues, Sean McConnell is eager to launch the next chapter of his career. 

Band Members