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.