Live Review: Carter Sampson + Amelia White, @ Sounds In The Suburbs, Glad Café, Glasgow – 8th July 2023

While the kids were getting on down at TRNSMT a couple of miles down the road, the sensible folk headed to Glasgow’s south side Glad Café for an engaging night of music from Oklahoma and East Nashville as performed by Carter Sampson and Amelia White.

The gig, coming towards the end of an extensive UK tour, found the pair totally in cahoots with each other despite what White referred to as their “chalk and cheese” element. White referred to herself as East Nashville’s finest funeral singer while Sampson stated that she preferred to sing at weddings and even offered to do so for any of the audience about to take their vows, as long as the ceremony was on a tropical island. Their easy banter confirmed their assertion that, having been mere acquaintances prior to the tour, they were now bosom buddies having shared the ups and downs of touring over the past few weeks. It was evident that, with the last leg in sight, both were having a whale of a time.

While White played the opening set and Sampson the second, there was a mix’n’match element as both singers popped up during the other’s sets to add harmonies or guitar while the closing songs had both on stage on what appears to have been something of a moveable feast throughout the tour as they decide whose song should close the show.

Given her funereal trappings, White’s songs were the darker of the night and she opened with the laid back slink of ‘Rhythm Of The Rain‘ before launching into the eerie refrains of ‘Waltzing With Your Ghost’, her picking on her Gretsch Falcon capturing the spookiness of the recorded version on her latest album, ‘Rocket Rearview’. From the same album, ‘January And June’, with Sampson adding vocal harmonies, was quite devastating in its dissection of turbulence in a relationship while the title song, a beguiling tale of a housewife escaping earth’s troubles and achieving a “major Tom” like clarity was perfectly delivered. A delve into her past on ‘Black Dove’ reminded one of White’s impressive back catalogue which really should be better known while her reading from her recent book of poetry allowed that she has a fine pen in a dog eared beat style. Closing her set, White, with Sampson adding vocals, paid tribute to John Prine with an affecting and moving delivery of ‘Summer’s End’, urging the audience to join in, which they did.

Carter Sampson was the more effervescent of the pair although many of her songs also have a dark edge to them. A brace of songs from her latest album ‘Gold’, including the glorious title track – a tribute to her mother – and the stunning ‘Drunk Text’, a morality tale for our times, were quite exquisite. Most affecting was her “old fashioned pandemic song,” ‘There’s Always Next Year’ which closes her album and which, tonight, was quite glorious with Sampson offering us a song which has all the qualities of a great John Prine song. From her excellent back catalogue we were offered the tender waltz of ‘Hello Darling’ and, with White joining in, a rambunctious delivery of ‘Wilder Side’. The audience’s favourite on the night seemed to be the frontier tale of ‘Rattlesnake Kate’ although Sampson’s closing rendition of Shel Silverstein’s ‘Queen Of The Silver Dollar’ was a close second. Sampson and White played this superbly, looking behind the rhinestones to unveil the tawdry reality behind the song.

An encore beckoned and White sang her own song ‘Lucky’, not related to Sampson’s album of the same name, unplugged and wandering through the audience urging all to sing the chorus – potentially embarrassing but to their credit the crowd did rise to the occasion. While White then sat down on a vacant seat, Sampson, still on stage, stated she was keen to do an album of jazz standards before singing a sublime version of Buddy Johnson’s ‘Since I Fell For You’, a perfect torch song. Tying it altogether and going back to the roots, White got back on stage and the pair sang their closing song, Hank William’s ‘Tennessee Border’, a great song to end on.

About Paul Kerr 438 Articles
Still searching for the Holy Grail, a 10/10 album, so keep sending them in.
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