Seán McGowan: The People’s Music – ep reviewSeán McGowan
The People’s Music EP
Out November 12th, 2012

Young singer songwriter follows in the footsteps of Billy Bragg with lyrical protest songs showing a poignancy far beyond his years. Chris Hearn tells us more below.

How old is this guy? Well, apparently he’s 19 years old. He started “gigging” in late 2010! How can that be? This guy has a powerhouse of a voice with raspy tinges that sounds like it may have developed over years of cutting his teeth in smoky bars, he writes deep and meaningful songs, and he is smart and interesting. That sounds rather ageist I suppose, implying that someone that age can’t be smart, interesting and write deep, meaningful songs. But, honestly, he sounds like a guy who has been around the block a time or two, has a level head and can express himself through song like a champ. He sounds well beyond his years. If he keeps going like this, he could be England’s great troubadour, known far and wide! Maybe he’ll pick up a cool nickname like Southampton Seán (seeing he is from Southampton and his name is Seán).

“5:25” live:


According to McGowan’s Facebook page, Beans on Toast says “I fucking love this guy”. Well, I love that Beans on Toast guy, so if he says he’s good, then I’m in! And, it’s fair to say that Mr. Toast is very correct in his brief and to the point statement. I walk away after listening to this EP feeling much the same way. Mr. McGowan is joined by his sideman, backup vocalist and guitarist Dean Paul. Together they make fine, fine acoustic folk punk, and protest songs, though these aren’t overly protesty as they are reflective, biographical, insightful and observational with a bit of an angry streak (though “Track 5” is definitely protest filled enough for the whole album). He really is an exceptional songwriter and as proof, I present to you…this entire album! I mean, where do I actually start and end? Well, there is not a bad song on this EP, not a song that isn’t well written, isn’t played with passion and that doesn’t show his immense talent. He writes about life. He writes about what he knows from marking crappy wages to telling off teachers, to hanging out with friends. And, with “Track 5” I think he taps right into a lot of the anger and frustration that many are having these days with governments and “the rich” who seem to be heartless and clued out at the financial situation and how it is ripping the lives apart of millions of people. He gives “The Man” a good, angsty talking to that again comes across as something that would come from someone well beyond his years.



So far, this is what McGowan has accomplished: “In less than a year he has won a national competition to support Shed Seven at the O2 Academy Bournemouth, came second in the Fast Track To Hop Farm competition (beating over 1,500 entrants), has topped the Strummerville DIY chart for over 7 weeks and was recently voted as ‘Unsigned Act Of The Week’ by a national radio station.” As he says in 5.25 (there should be a pound sign in front of that, but my Canadian computer doesn’t seem to have one of those on the keyboard!) “Life’s too short to take too long” and it looks like he has jumped in with both feet and hasn’t slowed down since he hit the ground.

Good work, McGowan. I suspect that, with this just being his second EP, we are seeing the brilliant beginnings of a long and productive career in music. I have a feeling that he will write many a song in the future that will become almost like anthems for the working class of England. If this guy doesn’t wind up as a legendary part of Western pop culture, then there truly is no justice in the world.

So far Seán McGowan is unsigned, but you can check out his profile on music collective Of course, he is also on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. And, he has a ton of great live videos of his songs over on his YouTube page as well. Please support this guy and be sure to get this album when it comes out November 12th. If you like guys like Frank Turner, Billy Bragg, Beans on Toast or American artists like Into It/Over it, Todd Snider, The Indigo Girls or Ani Difranco, then, ya, you are going to dig this, I’m quite sure.

All words by Chris Hearn. You can read more from Chris on LTW here.

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Deep in the heart of Canada, on the north shore of frigid Lake Superior, is a town called Thunder Bay. That\'s where I am from. That\'s where I started to write. And that is where I started to discover music. Now, I\'m a married man with two boys. I still love music. I still go to shows. And I still visit Thunder Bay, even though I haven\'t lived there for many years. What will you find on my iPod? You\'ll find lot of Americana, classic country, heavy stuff, punk and plenty of “guilty pleasures”.


  1. Welcome Pariah, Dahlia FX, Sean McGowan and other Southampton-area releases/news... - Louder Than War

    […] Sean McGowan continues to be the hardest-working protest singer in the city ( as well as the best barman and toilet-cleaner the Joiners has ever had) and has released a new single on Rob Da Banks label feat backing vocals from his good buddy Frank Turner. A side is called Come Unstuck which despite a deceptively slow start builds into a sheer MacGowan classic about friendship and loyalty. […]


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