It’s been nine years since Ken Sharp has released an album. In his defense, however, Sharp is a New York Times best-selling writer who has authored or co-authored more than 18 music books, contributes to a variety of national music magazines, works on music documentaries, and has done liner notes for releases by Elvis Presley, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, Small Faces, Santana, Cheap Trick and others.
So, yeah, he’s a pretty busy guy.
The last few years have seen the singer/songwriter/author tread some serious waters, and as an outlet he wrote the aptly titled ‘New Mourning’ to deal. The 14-track album may be dark lyrically, but Sharp shines a light of beauty and hope for the overall outcome with his words. Mixed with the upbeat instrumentation which has a strong lineage to ’60s Brit pop, the sparkle of the Posies, and the hint of grit of New York Dolls, ‘New Mourning’ is not as morose as you might think.
For the most part, Sharp flexes his love for indie pop charisma with a lot of layers on each song, but has the wherewithal to scale the instrumentation back when needed, especially on the album’s ballads.
Produced by Sharp and Fernando Perdomo, ‘New Mourning” boasts some key players backing Sharp – Rick Springfield (“Burn & Crash,” “Satellite”), guitarist Wally Stocker of the Babys (“Dynamite and Kerosene,” “Loser”) bassist Prescott Niles of the Knack (“Mr. Know It All,” “Dynamite and Kerosene”) and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo of New England (“Satellite”) alongside the team of Perdomo and gifted musicians Rob Bonfiglio (Wanderlust) and Ritchie Rubini (the Caulfields). This experience gives the tracks a tight, experienced feel, as if a bunch of friends went into the recording studio for fun and laid down some tracks.
I am sure ‘New Mourning’ was a labor of love and maybe even necessary for Sharp, but if the sugary pop goodness on these tracks is any indication, the healing has begun.