This is Sam’s second album of entirely self-played and self-produced songs. It’s great stuff, following on from 2007’s Paths Into Light, in a similar vein but with even better production. I’m quoted on Sam’s Reverbnation page as saying ‘some of the best pop songs ever written’, to which one might reply ‘Steady on’; I don’t remember that particular OTT quote but who cares, because Sam has staked out his claim to a place in the sparsely-populated borderland between the Edinburgh open mic scene and the world of signed bands who make successful singles. What’s so good about it? What does he do that the rest of us don’t? Well for one, he can do a song that stays for three or three and a half minutes and doesn’t waste a second. Tight arrangements, everything in place, nothing extraneous but enough ear candy to satisfy further listenings. For another, they’re catchy. I picked this up at his Secret CDs launch party, popped it into the CD player in the car on the way home and was singing along within a minute. Hooks that draw you in but never get irritating. Thirdly, as I know all too well, home multitracking is a licence to throw in the kitchen sink, the drainage system and an entire team of plumbers on backing vocals. Commendably Sam avoids this, concentrating on guitars, the odd keyboard track, bass, natural-sounding drums and restrained but always appropriate backing vocals. Badger Sam for a copy of this – you won’t regret it.
(PS Please don’t ever send me CDs for review – I only do reviews here when I really want other people to hear them!)