Sunday 23 June 2024

IN THE ROOTS OF MUSIC

Newsletter SIGNUP

spiral earth
Sunday 23 June 2024

Share This:

Escape That – Sam Sweeney.

Sep 30, 2022

Truth is best delivered straight with no messing about. So…. this is by some margin one of the best recordings of 2022. In a year when most have been happy to just get back to normal – pre Covid in other words; the albums which actually progress folk music and make you sit up, take notice and acknowledge the boundaries being pushed, are sadly few and far between. However there are a handful of brave types who want to use musical roots to not only establish identity but to forge new ones, blending what they know from distinct genres to create a meaningful mutant or hybrid. Count among them Sam Sweeney.

If you check back on his solo activity, there was his splendid unearthing of an old violin and all its history entailed, a second album which began to lay out his ground ‘Unearth Repeat,’ and now ‘Escape That,’ which blows away all proceeding efforts. Sweeney’s used experiences across the past couple of years to anchor and spur himself on, thinking of places and people whilst composing and arranging, so ultimately each track has its own character and personality. Delving into his love of melodic hooks in rock and pop as well as the obvious traditional melodies and dance tunes, his method of working was to record short passages, play them over loads of times then mix them in longer segments until he’d got a piece that put a grin on his face. At eleven tracks, each one effective and affective, then he must have had a permanent smile for months. Taking the core of musicians from ‘Unearth Repeat,’ and producer Andy Bell along for sage advice and continuity what ‘ Escape That,’ consists of are tunes which use, electronics, electric instrumentation and acoustic snatches in a singular, intelligent way.

That it’s been on constant replay in my car as I drive hither and yon for two weeks, tells you how addictive Sam Sweeney’s compositions are, with each listen you catch things you missed before, it could be Louis Campbell’s fractured electric guitar runs which splinter and barb keenly or maybe Ben Nicholls thoughtful bass playing, which at times put me in mind of the legendary Danny Thompson. There are synths through out but they never dominate, simply add support and depth, allowing the fiddle to dance, twirl and spiral like a lark in the clear air.

Subtle is a word I’d use, subtle but efficacious without doubt.  English music certainly, its charm lies in the fact that within but a few minutes your mind is captivated by images… what you see that’s up to you.  Me? I was drawn to the natural world, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the music here is the soundtrack to a hundred of those wonderful BBC wildlife documentaries…. otters chasing and splashing down a river, fox or badger cubs playing in the twilight, red squirrels leaping through the branches of a forest. But then maybe I’m just getting too bucolic for my own good.

About time for the truth again… ‘Escape That,’ is a powerful and addictive record, you would be foolish to ignore its charms and allure so give in immediately, it’s a habit worth forming.

Simon Jones. 

hudsonrecords.co.uk

Spiral Earth rating

uk festival directory