NOW Reader’s Choice best songwriter runner-up Shawn William Clarke has stories to spare on his sophomore album, William, produced by James Bunton (Oh Bijou, KASHKA, Light Fires).
Clarke’s disarmingly simple songs offer a glimpse of a quaint and romantic alternate-reality Toronto in which shutterbugs meet and develop crushes in line at the Tranzac Club and lovers from opposite sides of the track slow-dance – like on pedal-steel-tinged Sarah Beatty duet Some Nerve. Clarke has one foot in modern life and another firmly planted somewhere else: waltz Forest City is about a night out in London, Ontario, but with Sara Ciantar’s accordion and Clarke’s vocals – along with incongruous references to the Zombies and the Kinks – it could easily pass for an older tune set in London, England.
Bunton’s production is warm, the kind of mix that gives the impression of a solo singer/guitarist, but with the spacious, subtle hum of a full band – horns, even – behind him.
Top track: Sound Of Ticking And Tocking
Shawn William Clarke plays the Dakota Friday (December 12).