Sean Forbes: Perfect Imperfection

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Artist Feature,   From Issue 771   By: Robert 'Bo' White

13th June, 2013     0

Sean Forbes grew up in a musical family. His father Scott and Uncle Dennis founded the iconic Forbes Brothers Band giving country rock new meaning and substance. Both Scott and Dennis are Michigan rockers at heart and have compiled impressive songwriting credits. Dennis is the techno wizard of the clan and engineered some of Bob Seger's best recordings from the seventies. Given the Forbes family history Sean was destined to become a musician. It was in his blood like oxygen is to breathing. He's been enthralled by sounds and rhythm since toddlerhood when he showed an affinity for beating on the drums.
 
For Sean it was the roar that lies on the other side of silence. It helped him to defeat the dark solitude of being deaf. At times it could be heavy like living in a cave and not being wanted. Yet he was loved dearly and his parents helped him go beyond those moments in which he felt small and frail. As his keening senses evolved, he could smell the air of the house he was born into. Sean has an uncanny power to feel voice tones and unearth vibrations hidden from others. He could feel the phantom buzz and for him it was an elegant surrender to his musical heritage.  Sean learned about love from his parents and he became a champion of those who are not loved. It is no small coincidence that Sean founded the Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN). It is an organization that supports the arts and sciences to people who are deaf. D-Pan has created a network of services and learning opportunities for anyone interested in pursuing a dream
 
Sean's first full length CD Perfect Imperfection is the culmination of a life long quest for the lost chords, beats and rhythms derived from the universal note. In making the music in his mind, Sean has created an entirely new genre of musical expression. There is nothing past or present that can compare to what Forbes has dished out on his platter, a feast for the gods; a search for the Holy Grail. Forbes is an alchemist forging an innovation never imagined; a disciple of Mary Shelly imparting the secrets of love and immortality. Forbes has created a new living/pulsating work of art. He is a lone genius crafting rhythmic patterns, music for the soul. He uses sign language to interpret the lyrics that help chart the path. Pay attention, this just may be the last great musical innovation in our lifetime.
 
Forbes may be a post-modern Robert Johnson standing at the crossroads between sound and silence. Forbes is beginning to understand that he is not the sum of other people's prescriptions and that dialectical dilemmas exist in the music biz; rebel versus slave; to dominate versus being victimized. He is on a moral high ground, making choices to help others through D-PAN. His heart reaches out and touches a deep well of love and peace that still exists for humanity.
 
It is a brave new world in which a very literal culture takes more stock in material acquisition and the cult of celebrity over deep moral interests. It can prove to be unsatisfying. In this world water is only H20. Forbes is the exception to the rule. He is deeply aware of his longings, his selfdom. You can feel it in his beats and read it in his lyrics.
 
Sean now lives in a complex web of relationships never before imagined - from Eminem and Stevie Wonder to actress and mambo queen Marlee Matlin. Yet through all this buzz of fame and notoriety, Sean has kept his head on straight. It's deeply imbedded in his genetic code.
 
His music tells a story of struggle and triumph. The message is transcendent.
 
We Interrupt This Program. The disc opens with a statement by Franklin Delano Roosevelt recorded at his First Inaugural Address in 1933…“So first of all, let me assert my firm belief,  that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. This is a catchy mid-tempo rap with rock steady beats with light percussion and synthesized clips and washes
 
I'm Deaf. Deafer than Def Jam. This is a love song, a message to everyone who is hearing impaired and anyone who misunderstands the needs and strengths of people who are deaf. The emotions run high and are not sugar coated or minimalized. Sean's message is not all about peace and love. It's about frustration, communication and do-gooders who invalidate differences. Sean admits that he isn't about to let anyone discount his intelligence or his craft. He admits that his hands talk dirty, so do mine, like the infamous middle finger salute. But Forbes shifts gears and lists of people who have inspired him such as Jim Abbott, Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder. The cat on the keyboards pounds out minor chords and fills out the soundscape. At the Coda he plays a more intricate phrasing that conveys a deeply felt emotional valence.
 
Crazy About You. The music is sophisticated minimalist phrasings reminiscent of early 10CC. Forbes vocals are up front in the mix. Female singers enter the song with a sultry chorus: Crazy About You Crazy About You   Crazy About You (I can never get enough) Love the line about the struggles of maintaining a deep love relationship -  Building a foundation - But there's no furniture in the house. PERFECT.
 
Do You Know What I Mean. Forbes handles the 100-mile an hour breakneck speed verses. His vocal is stylistically adroit and powerful, almost breathless. The sing/song chorus has the hooks. Howard Kaylan would be proud and smilin'. Do you know what I mean?
 
Watch These Hands has a chill out 59-second interlude motif that has an unmistakable Stevie Wonder vibe. It's a song about real communication, not the newspeak and doublethink predicted by Orwell and others so many years ago. Forbes attempts to communicate deeply, almost religiously instead of obfuscating and attempting to control thinking. He has hands that talk, lips that move and eyes that see. He leads us by the nose to rediscover the non-verbal ways of telling a story. Whew this is a doubleplusgood bellyfeel.
 
Def Deaf Girls. Forbes is signifying about more than recognizing the sensuous delights of Deaf girls, this is loin grabbing, tongue twisting, orifice probing, deep-throated eroticism. This is an ethological imperative; it is our instinct to be social and merge with others. This is a cultural coming of age statement, a signal that the train is coming down the track and speeding through the tunnel; hopping in the backseat for some homegrown. Forbes gets that familiar rhythm and groove pulsating to the beat. It's tight as a vice and fits just right like jellyroll (to my soul). Lord Have Mercy.
 
Mood Swings. This is a slowed down reggae, pro-tooled and percussive with a cool synthesized backdrop. Forbes reveals the yin and yang of his personality; the aggressive alpha male and the thoughtful receptacle that goes with the flow (water wisdom). This song speaks to the unspoken struggle of most performers. There is an expectation of professionalism yet very few can achieve balance when so much is expected in so little time. Forbes struggle with emotional ups & downs is palpable.
 
Bob Dylan was the First Rapper. This is a phenomenal song created deep within the crevices of Sean Forbes nerve center. Forbes is an emerging lyrical wunderkind with enough balls to borrow a verse from Dylan's apocalyptic Subterranean Homesick Blues. It's a perfect fit.  Forbes is a Detroit musician born and bred and he follows an impressive pedigree from Jack Scott, Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger to Kid Rock & Eminem. It must be in the water or in the shared struggle of living in a once brilliant city that eats its young, chews 'em up and spits 'em out. Forbes is homespun prophet that embraces a dialectical approach to his music and lyrics that involves multiple truths and a smudge of irony.
Get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance
Learn to dance, get dressed, get blessed
Be a success, please her, please him
Buy gifts, don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schooling
Put you on the day shift
The chorus contains some unison singing that's just sloppy enough to make it real. It's brilliant
Bob Dylan was the first rapper
First rapper
Bob Dylan was the first rapper
First rapper
This is just a whacked out song!!!
 
Hammer. A whirling bouquet of synthesized machine sounds build from a bass note to a high C giving the song an edginess that's real as dirt.  The pounding piano chords are joined by a throbbing bass line and the vibrations set the soundscape in motion. Forbes is a man of peace but he isn't going to give up without a fight. It's a song about resilience.
 
The Maze. This is a funky R&B song. A vibraphone rings out like a doorbell on the set of the Addams family.  The song opens with a chorus of female singers, it's sexy and sensual but there is edge underneath it all, a curious stalemate between lovers, an echoed alter ego.
 
The Mambo. After some intensely righteous soul searching in the main body of this disc, Forbes penetrated the dharma and entered a Jungian dance of discovery. It took the form of a Mambo and it set him free, mind, body and spirit. This liberation lightened the mood and got Forbes in touch with his body. The familiar conga beat with timbales, claves and some great syncopated piano figures had him stepping out and letting go. You may have seen a You Tube video that shows Forbes dancing quite nicely with the beautiful and gifted actress Marlee Matlin.  It's as sexy and funny as Marilyn in Some Like it Hot; a goof of the first degree…too much fun. I see this as Dance Club hit!
 
Don't Let Anything Hold You Back. This is one of the most moving songs of inspiration since Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon & Garfunkel or Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder. The minimalist instrumentation helps the lyrics breathe, Forbes raps the verse and the soulful chorus is sung by the brilliant poet/musician ML Liebler.
Verse: Every road you take there's a lesson / A story of perfect imperfections / There's so many out there they label autistic / Who said their goals were too unrealistic / I've seen it personally first hand / The true success of a fine young man. Chorus: Don't let anything hold you back / Don't let anyone say a facts a fact.
 
The disc closes with Welcome (interlude). It begins with a composite of synth noodlings and aural shadings that segue to a bluesy B-3 workout; music without words - a great ending to a groundbreaking disc of original music from a gifted artist who thinks outside the box.  There is a second disc of videos that support the songs on the disc. This is a first class effort, a total multi-media package including music, video, photos, and a 10 page insert complete with lyrics. The video director Adrean Mangiardi deserves special mention in helping Forbes bring his vision to life. 
 
Forbes' music is currently being played on 1100 radio stations. You can see him on You Tube and NPR.com and you can order Perfect Imperfection online @ www.deafandloud.com.
 
Sean Forbes will appear at White's Bar on Saturday, June 22nd with ML Liebler, The Ruiners and others.

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