Séan McCann spins a yarn about The Shantyman’s Life in his latest single and video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
The fitting first single from the Great Big Sea co-founder’s new album Shantyman, the track is a testament to brotherhood, togetherness and acting as one. Plunging out of your speakers, Shantyman’s Life incorporates the very best of McCann: High-spirited folk-rock interspersed with Celtic sounds and Maritime harmonies. Augment his masterful songwriting with his distinguished vocals, layer in some lush harmonies and pounding percussion and you’ve churned yourself an authentic sea shanty.
“Music is medicine, and I believe it is no accident the shanty has resurfaced now when we so desperately need songs that bind us,” McCann remarks. “The shanty is the ultimate work song designed specifically to help people overcome difficult challenges by working together in harmony to get the job done.”
A musician almost by birth and a professional songwriter since the ’80s, McCann has become a tour de force in Canada’s musical landscape and history — not only as a solo artist, but also as a former member of the world-renowned Great Big Sea, a group he co-founded and performed with until his exit in 2013.
Over his incredible career, McCann has dropped five successful solo albums, each touching on subjects ranging from life in his home country to the infamous Fort McMurray wildfires. In conjunction with his philanthropy work, McCann also went on to organize a songwriters benefit in 2017 in support of veterans suffering with PTSD and addiction, enlisting Joel Plaskett, Sarah Harmer and Jeremy Fisher. McCann’s good deeds would not go unnoticed — the musician earned the Order of Canada for his advocacy in 2020.
Coming to terms with his past — including a spiralling battle with alcohol addiction — and owning his truth have been paramount to who he’s become as a husband, father, musician, and human. Armed with the strength and support of his wife Andrea Aragon, McCann released his first book One Good Reason in 2020. It’s the story of how love saved their marriage, and music saved his life. It is the story of a man freed from the weight of a lie; a man who is changing his narrative and never forgetting that he is not alone.
Moving forward through the pandemic has inspired and encouraged McCann to do what he loves best: write music, tell stories, and do it all with the accompaniment of “Old Brown” — the first guitar he purchased back in 1989. What isolation encouraged was a record of sea shanties and tales of life on the East Coast — meant to be sung loud, and with others. “I spent the last six months making Shantyman to keep myself from going slowly insane in the absence of any live in-person concert interaction,” McCann says.
Inspired by the necessity of humanity working together to conquer COVID and overcome the pandemic, McCann focused on our dependence upon each other as the foundation for the album. He reached out to friends Hawksley Workman, Gordie Johnson, Jeremy Fisher and fiddler J.P. Cormier to record themselves remotely to bring his passion project to fruition.