Shawn Sage
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Shawn Sage

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Every Tuesday afternoon I used to listen to this show on college radio hosted by Uncle Sooie, which featured such alt-country acts as Luther Wright, the Sadies, Neko Case, and so on. Should Uncle Sooie have stuck Shawn Sage into this mix, a harmony of musical genres would have been reached. Thankfully, Sage keeps us on our toes by crossing the borders of alt-country and delving into flamenco, Beatle-esque pop, bossa nova, and rockabilly. Another medal is rewarded for not falling into the trap of imitation despite proclaiming devotion to Dylan and Cash. He’s got some pretty entertainingly unusual lyrics. I n The Meaning of it All, he talks to Sigmund Freud and Socrates! And Marijuana and Alcohol is an anthem the AA’s gonna hate. Yep. This is a great CD, if you still think alt-country’s cool. Keep friggin right on Shawn Sage!
- Penguin Eggs Magazine


One of the Good Guys is the name of a debut CD by a local singer/songwriter who, if this recording is indicative, should have a great career in the music business. Shawn Sage is a young man whom I met at the Renaissance Cafe open stage a few months back. He impressed me - and everyone else there - with his accomplished stage presence and great songs. This 12-song CD is a testament to his abilities in both avenues. The songs are strong, and the performances equally so.

Shawn's voice has a maturity to it that belies his young age (if I didn't know him personally, I'd swear that he lived a down and out lifestyle) and it reminds me of say, Colin Linden, or local singer Peter Verity. It's a voice that suits the material.

And the material is a tapestry of living that again must be coming in large part from his overactive imagination. Many of the songs are about love lost, and life degenerating into a boozy haze. Take for example the opening cut Homesick about a guy who begs to come home and will take forgiveness anyway he can ("Don't show me the door/Just show me the floor"). Or the equally maudlin Anyway, Anyhow about missing someone, but getting by ("Since the last time that I saw you/It has been awhile/There's been nothing much to do/But watch my clothes go out of style."). Then there's the country-flavoured She Don't Want My Eyes On Her about a lonely barfly which contains a great line that I'm going to have to quote someday - "I don't know if I should be drinking in this state that I am in."

My favourite cut of the CD is a superbly crafted crying-in-your-beer tune called There's Another Man. The singer talks about the new man in his woman's life and all the things he can do for her, "But does this other man love you/The way that I do?" This is the kind of song that should get good cover play.

But it's not all sadness and grief. Shawn loves to party like so many of his age, and has a great sense of humour and irony about it. Listen to Rock N' Roll Fever dedicated to the joy of old fashioned, flat out rock and roll with its Chuck Berry licks, skiffle beat and tack piano. Or how about Marijuana & Alcohol about the lifestyle of the average young working Joe ("I blow all my money/I waste all my time/With marijuana and alcohol/And my buddies by my side.")

And he has an optimistic bent in Everything I Got - "If you let me love you/I'm gonna love you/With everything I got." Or You Got Me a good, solid folk/rocker complete with B3 padding.

Sage has a bit of a philosophical side to him as well if you take The Meaning Of It All or Caught In The Middle as examples. The former is a bluesy, slightly ironic tune that manages to mention Socrtates, Jesus Christ and Freud all in one song. Or, on the more serious note is the latter which talks about how evolving personal growth can often lead to separation - "I'm caught in the middle/Is this a joke or a riddle/Cause if I follow to where I'm drawn/She'll be gone."

An interesting sidebar to this CD is a tune called Sparrow. It's Spanish flavour and exceptional guitar work by Makie still doesn't account for why Sage sings the lyrics in a mock-Spanisht accent. It might have had more impact if he had played it straight. - Beach Metro


Discography

ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS - album (12 Tracks)

'Let's Get Bush Off The Wagon' - single (available for free download at www.shawnsage.com)

MISADVENTURES IN SONG - album

Photos

Bio

I don’t know if I make music or if the music makes me. I tend to be most comfortable when I’m playing some song I wrote on some stage somewhere – even though I’m usually nervous as hell when I’m doing it. Maybe I’m just most comfortable when I’m nervous as hell?

Anyway, I tend to identify as a singer/songwriter. I’m wondering if that’s a dirty word these days, but that’s what I do - I write songs and then I go and sing ‘em, so it seems like a good umbrella to stand under as the cats and dogs rain down (I’d like to meet the whimsical person who coined that term).

Yeah, so I write songs and then I sing ‘em. Most often on guitar. Sometimes there’s a complicit harmonica. I don’t have any particular style that I play. I’m a real pain in the ass for my publicist, but as I’m sure you can guess, I’m my own publicist so the arguments tend to be short and kept within the confines of a closed door someplace inside my far too open mind.

So… the songs. They must be some form of emotional plumbing, but they are rarely ripped from the pages of my life. They have characters. Stories. Words strung together that can mean lotsa’ different things to lotsa’ different folks. Some are opaque – open ended like an English Literature essay question. Others seem as blunt and utilitarian as a butter knife, but I can’t tell you what any of them are about– you gotta tell yourself what they’re about. Well, if you like that sort of thing…

Before I go, I should mention some stuff I’ve done that may or may not impress you. Played lotsa’ shows all over and people tend to dig it. Played some festivals – Canadian Music Week, Brampton Folk Fest, City Roots Fest, Winterfolk. Been played on the CBC and many college radio shows. Won ‘Song of the Year’ on one college show, the popular ‘Back To The Sugar Camp’ on CIUT in Toronto. My fun protest song, ‘Let’s Get Bush Off The Wagon,’ has been download by hundreds of thousands of people and made into a fan video you can find on YouTube.

Now, I can’t say that I have set the world on fire with these songs, but I blame my publicist for that. I think I’ve got songs that you should listen to. If I didn’t think that, why the hell am I writing this? So, I’d be tickled pink if you would give them a listen – maybe on the old world wide web, preferably in someplace where I’m there playing them, but anywhere would be just fine and dandy.

You may find out that I wrote these songs just for you