Sam Brothers – Farewell To My Old Days
White Mane Records – 20 October 2017
Making his album debut, Sam Brothers is a 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Canterbury. He was discovered while busking in Brighton, a wandering troubadour that calls to mind the Soho and Greenwich Village coffee bar scene in the late 60s and early 70s. The influence of Bert Jansch can be heard in his guitar style while the influences of Tim Buckley, Pete Seeger and (particularly on Opium Dreams) Nick Drake loom large. This is made very clear with the fingerpicked album opener, From The Sky, and further underlined by the sole cover, a fairly faithful if a slightly too fast reading of Phil Ochs’ There But For Fortune, a song made famous by Joan Baez. Elsewhere you may also discern echoes of formative Paul Simon (the guitar line of Still I’m Here, As Always calls April Come She Will to mind), and Donovan (Someone Like You recalls House of Jansch from Mellow Yellow). The relationship-themed songs such as Now I Know, the reflective How We Were Alone and Remind Her of My Name, highlight his vocal delivery ranging from a deep gravity belying his years to the smoky falsetto of the moodier Early Morning Song.
It’s a pity that the text of the fold-out insert is devoted to a small essay by his manager Mark St. John (whose past roster ranges from The Pretty Things to the Bay City Rollers) rather than the lyrics. While he does offer folk blues textures (Lead Belly’s among the list of influences) like Tell Me and, on The Messenger, straps on a harmonica, to balance the folk ballad material, too much remains on the same musical level to sustain interest over the course of a single sitting.
However, closing with the vaguely Celtic tinted title number, a mingling of melancholy for what’s gone and hopes for what lies ahead, it’s undeniably an impressive debut and I look forward to hearing how he develops in the years to come.
Out 20th October
Wednesday 25 October – CANTERBURY – Bramley’s Cocktail Bar
Saturday 28 October – LONDON – The Troubadour
More details and dates via https://www.facebook.com/sambrothersmusic/