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Singer/songwriter and actor, John Legend, is quoted as saying: “Soul is about authenticity. Soul is about finding the things in your life that are real and pure.” Enter Shaun England, an Oxford-born singer/songwriter dubbed “Boston’s Man in Black” by Rev. Joseph Fagan (James Straight and the Wide Stance), with ticket stubs from Sun Studios in Memphis, TN, and from Graceland, and a program from the Ryman Auditorium in his guitar case.
An introspective individual with deep-seated American roots, England cites Willie Nelson as initial inspiration: “After seeing him [Nelson] on Austin City Limits, I realized how such a medium could enable me to say what I wished.” The influences of Joe Strummer, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, the Sex Pistols, and Dead Kennedys would follow, each serving to instill within England the drive to create, and the desire to become a storyteller. Little did he know that such an endeavor would lead to the development of his own brand of poignant gothic country and, released in 2011, a two-song single showcasing a collaboration with renowned jazz musician Mike Turk.
England’s forthcoming debut full-length, Star Crossed Lovers, is an examination of the human condition, in addition to reflections on both autobiographical and worldly experiences. While the rumba “Tied to the Tracks” provides a tongue-in-cheek look at a failed relationship, prisoners of war inspired “Tomorrow I Dig My Grave.” As inspiration stems from the dark corners of the city, a heart-on-sleeve sense of loss is ever-present, one that evokes the realism of Charles Bukowski. “Joe Santerre (bass) and John Disanto (drums) bring high energy and eclectic funk/rock backgrounds, while Jeff Williams (piano) and Dianne McAdam (background vocals) also influence my approach. Star Crossed Lovers features a full band and was primarily recorded live in-studio. I feel it important to document events, much like Joe Strummer did, in a method that pays homage to those who have come before.”
HOMETOWN: Cape Cod, MA
GENRE: Gothic Country
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Creating from the dark corners of the city and worldly experiences.
photo by Michelle McGrath