Hailing from Paintsville, Kentucky Sean Whiting is a singer/songwriter who recently released Hell or High Water. The six songs revolve around no more than his guitar and vocals. These songs could have easily worked with a full band and sometimes I felt the songs would have benefitted from the kinetic energy of a drums set and bass. That being said most of the songs work just fine.
Whiting’s guitar playing revolves around fairly basic chords structures and sticks to strumming while he implements picking some of the time. Don’t expect the technical guitar skills you might hear from a Kristian Matsson or Devendra Banhart. When it comes to the vocal performance Whiting is dynamic and heartfelt. I could see a lot of people enjoying the tone of his voice.
“Hell or High Water” is the song that felt most like it needed the support of a full band. The guitar and vocals feel like they are being pushed and that energy he is trying to convey isn’t quite met with the sparse instrumentation.
“The Rain” revolves around a couple of strummed guitar chords and a very good vocal performance. He sings “I feel the storm a comin/The clouds across the sky/I hear the wind a blowin/Death is on the rise/Hear it comes/I can feel the rain.Here it comes/I can feel the rain”. Whiting has more success with the melancholy “To Be Her Man”. I thought his vocals sounded great on this song. His vocals sounded a little less forced than on the first two songs and a bit of sadness on his voice works for him.
“Insecurity” was another song that I felt was begging for a backing band. Nonetheless the song is still solid. Whiting sings “Don't be afraid/You better get used to me/No don't be afraid/I'm just your insecurity”
“I'm Gonna Love You” moves along at a slow pace and is only saved by the heartfelt vocals. The song needed a change in pace or something at some point to get the juices flowing a bit.
Making music with just your acoustic and vocals is getting harder and harder to get away with and get noticed if for no other reason that their is so much competition out there right now. Whiting has some talent and is a good songwriter but may want consider working with a backing band at some point.
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