Shawn Clarke Like Birds, Too Tired To Fly

Shawn Clarke's mellow folk songs have the tart aftertaste of sharp wit, a winning combination from a musician who has previously worked with Olenka and the Autumn Lovers and Timber Timbre. The Toronto, ON songwriter keeps it simple on his solo debut, with subtle banjo, violin and the occasional thrill of slide guitar embellishing his acoustic guitar. His lovely instrumental numbers ("I'll Miss You When You're Gone" and "Requiem for 33 Yale") demonstrate his ability to create an appealing atmosphere. But the highlights of the album are the moments when Clarke combines cheerful melodies with acerbic lyrics, such as on "Sick Song," where his wry self-pity is played against the warm vocal harmonies of Toronto band the Wilderness of Manitoba. "Hurt Before" is another devilish pleasure; the song's unexpected profanity and wishy-washy animosity combine to create a thoroughly endearing portrait of the proverbial spurned lover. (Independent)