Sam Lee releases his fourth studio album, ‘songdreaming’, on March 15th. The follow up to 2020’s ‘Old Wow’, an album variously described as ‘A dazzling fusion of nature and song’ (The Observer) and a ‘sublime album that demands to be heard in the 21st century’ (The Daily Telegraph) amidst a host of critical acclaim, ‘songdreaming’ was recorded throughout 2023. The album sees Sam continue his work with producer Bernard Butler and long-term collaborator, arranger, and composer James Keay in creating an album rich in musicality and invention.
‘songdreaming’ represents the latest stage in the development of Sam Lee’s music, from its roots in traditional folk song to a new way of imagining and performing these old songs, making them relevant for a modern audience.
‘songdreaming’ may be built on the backbone of double bass, percussion, and violin but is infused with a world of instrumentation including the Arabic Qanun, Swedish Nyckelharpa, small pipes, and more. Across the ten tracks, Sam delivers an album that ranges from more immediately identifiable acoustic songs to drone soundscapes through to the electric guitar and gospel choir propelled lead single, ‘Meeting Is A Pleasant Place’, featuring the recording debut of Trans Voices, a London based transgender choir.
It is an album that can incorporate the beautiful balladry of ‘Sweet Girl McRee’ alongside the gospel tinges of ‘Leaves of Life’ whilst also housing the whiteout noise close of album opener ‘Bushes and Briars’, a song that details Sam’s rage at the treatment and condition of the natural world.
Nature, and the natural world, remain Sam’s primary lyrical concern. He characterises the album as “a mosaic of the emotions felt in my time outdoors, that artistically emerge in reflective moments when I’m permitted to recount and articulate the complexity of all I witness and thus feel responsible for”. In taking songs that are directly related to the nature of the British Isles, weaved into its very being, Sam is continuing to reinvent and contemporise a tradition of communion with the land through song.
What that means to the listener is a rich and evocative journey through the complex emotions created for Sam by his engagement with nature and his deep-felt affinity for it, drawing on sources as diverse as the sacred music of European and global mystic traditions, the work of neo-classical contemporary composers, and the simple effectiveness of a well delivered vocal melody. At the heart of ‘songdreaming’ is a belief in the fundamental power of music to connect and inspire. For Sam, these reimagined and reworked songs are more than a history, they are a living, breathing connection to our very being:
“Those people who are and were singing the old songs here at home were also looking after the land. When we stop singing to the land, the land stops singing back.”
‘songdreaming’ marks a further evolution of Sam as an artist, from his initial appearance as a curator of ancient song through to the creator of a new musical language for the canon and the meaning contained within it. It is an album that avoids simple classification, the revelation of an artist at the height of his creative powers, dedicated to both his message and its connection to its audience.
‘songdreaming’ is released by Cooking Vinyl on March 15th, 2024, on Vinyl Album, CD, and digital download. Album pre-order link – https://SLee.lnk.to/songdreamingPR.
Sam tours the UK through March and April before a home town headline show in London in June; all dates are as follows:
Friday, 15th – The Met, Bury
Sat 16th – Summerhall, Edinburgh
Sun 17th – Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
Wed 20th – Crookes Social Club, Sheffield
Thu 21st – Storey’s Field Centre, Cambridge
Fri 22nd – Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
Sat 23rd – The Glasshouse ICM, Gateshead (formerly The Sage)
Sun 24th – Old Woollen, Leeds
Tue 26th – Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich
Wed 27th – Beacon, Bristol
Thu 28th – Philharmonic, Liverpool
Wed 3rd – Komedia, Brighton
Thu 4th – Quarterhouse, Folkestone
Fri 5th – St Mary’s Church, Totnes
Sat 6th – The Gate, Cardiff
Sun 7th – Turner Sims, Southampton
Thu 13th – Round Chapel, London
Tickets are now on sale, visit www.samleesong.co.uk for details and booking.