Sam Moss – Neon
Lost Honey Records – 2 March 2018
Sam Moss is a singer-songwriter with an impeccable guitar style. He started out purely as a guitarist, his early recordings perhaps fitting into a folk-cum-Tompkins Square vibe. This is his fourth album with vocals and sounds like he has been doing it all his life. Sam has a surety in both the tune and the voice that even in the most hesitant of moments you know that nothing will be lost. The album is quiet, reflective and, like a glass of good wine, demands that you sit – and listen – a good thing in this age of constant movement and stimulus.
There are nine tracks, including one instrumental (Interlude), and all, with one exception, have one-word titles, which I like. Sparse. Their meaning may not appear evident at first listen but their relevance uncurls as the words become familiar.
The title song, Neon, has a very urban feel. Night-time, downtown, wandering the streets, getting a cab, getting out of the cab into empty streets and letting the neon lights fill “my heart”. I am reminded of my first visit to Las Vegas, travelling from the airport to the hotel, the place lit in neon, the night making it look even more unreal. Nothing else existed except the large stabs of bright colours suspended in the dark.
Night is a theme that Sam returns to in other songs. Flowers recounts
I called you up in the middle of the night
Called to wake you…
Just been having dreams, they’re mostly haunted
The ensuing conversation brings colour and memories into the dark but I still see it as urban. Snap seems to be another awakening from a dream, or perhaps a memory returning unannounced
The curtain falls, The day is new
and as we probably all know, the dream that wakes, the memory newly remembered, often hangs around all day, the resonance
Still echoes in your ear.
There is a brief, clear, sojourn to the rural in Slow:
The windows are wide, the view is fine…
The mountain shifts like an hourglass
but this is possibly quite incidental as
I can’t do nothing but slow the time
Is this the opposite of time flies when you’re having fun? The previous four tracks on the album were quiet with a fairly slow tempo. Slow, a paradox of title and tempo is, if anything faster and, with more of a distinctive, audible beat, is also louder in a single forte manner. A good track to munch a few pretzels with the glass of wine.
The last track, Here Again, reminds me of the visits to my mother in her final years. She would complain, in her own way,
I’m empty in my pockets
I’m losing my voice
Memory reappears as a theme but more obliquely:
Gone away is the mystery of youth
I learned what it was once it had gone
The older you get, the clearer the distant past becomes yet at the same time the more recent loses its clarity:
Are we here again or is it my imagination?
Even the trips out to the garden centre, the coffee bar or the supermarket would have been something special
When they take us out for a ride
Are we crown jewelled and waving to the peasants?
Neon may be an album of night, of place, of colour and light. But it is also an album of contrasts, contrasts that are subtle, contrasts that are hidden in the words and contrasts that look into the emotional light and dark. I hear the words and draw my own pictures, colour where necessary, monochrome where not. I certainly don’t see it as maudlin but it is reflective, quiet and worth a second glass of wine to listen to again.
Sam Moss UK Dates
Pre-Order his album via Bandcamp: https://sammoss.bandcamp.com/
Find out more about Sam here: http://www.sammoss.net/
Photo Credit: Brian Carroll