There is no denying that Sam Lee set the bar very high with his debut album Ground of its Own which led to a Mercury Nomination. The Ballad of George Collins which featured on the album received fantastic exposure across national radio also helped along by a ground-breaking video which was pretty unforgettable.
Sam is now set to deliver his second album ‘The Fade in Time’ on March 16th. We had already picked up clues over the year of its progress, the first being that it is produced by Arthur Jeffes, son of the late Simon Jeffes of Penguin Cafe Orchestra who has carried on his father’s legacy with Penguin Cafe.
We also know that the songs featured go back hundreds of years, ballads passed on from one generation to the next by the gypsy and traveller community that he’s had the pleasure of spending time with over the last few years, recording and collecting their songs. Many of the songs he has learned have been taught to him word of mouth which must be an unforgettable experience, let alone a rare occurrence in this day where we tend to rely more on the likes of archives.
When you’ve spent so long in the field, such a passion must become an all consuming passion. With that must come a great feeling of responsibility towards those you have learned the songs from bearing in mind that he is interpreting those songs in his own personal way. It’s no surprise therefore that making this album has not been without its challenges.Talking about the making of the album Sam described it as ‘joyous, painful, heartbreaking’, he also admitted to nearly giving up at several points as he questioned whether what he was trying to achieve was really possible. I can only guess at the stress that such an album must put an artist through but the good news is that he is very close now to the light at the end of the tunnel.
As well as the album, a film will also be made about the singers of those songs, giving us a rich insight into a real living tradition. For this release Sam took the decision to self-fund the release via his own label the Nest Collective. In order to achieve this he has started a Pledge Campaign to help raise the necessary funds to make it a reality. As with all campaigns he has some great offers including some very unique ones such as house concerts, a walk in the woods with Sam to hear the nightingales, a foraging trip in Sussex to find some of the lovely edibles available in the British countryside as well as the chance to spend some time with one of the gypsy singers he has spent time with.