The band Red Sammy – fronted by Baltimore, Maryland native Adam Trice – bill themselves as a rock band, but their eighth studio album sees them working in a more soulful frame of mind, with influences coming from Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, among many others. These influences are heard on a collection of songs that, as the album title suggests, rely heavily on the tried and tested themes of heartbreak and love.
‘Between Love and Lonely Heartbreak’ is the first track, and those aforementioned musical influences are clear from the outset, with this song instantly reminiscent of Tom Waits. “Way out there where the ocean breaks / My heart like the raging waves / When I dream and I abandon my mistakes between love and lonely heartbreak,” Trice sings in a style here that’s sometimes evocative of powerful 90s indie acoustic. ‘Punks, Geeks, Freaks’ is an interesting tale of a teenage outcast, one that’s instantly recognisable to anyone who was music obsessed in their formative years (“It’s probably best to hang with all the punks, the geeks, and the freaks / We like our rock n’ roll loud / We won’t belong to the crowd”).
‘Misery Loves Company’ feels like it could be a Leonard Cohen b-side, title included; so when Trice bellows: “Wrestle with them wicked thoughts / I know I said that I’d play the part / Is this where it ends when it falls apart?” it resonates strongly. ‘I Should Have Quit You Sooner’ takes a brighter tone, the chorus in particular has an airier, catchier feel, despite the somewhat regretful nature of the lyrics. ‘I Don’t Accept Your Apology’ is another track fuelled with a solid 90s indie sound, and Trice’s vocals drip with bitterness and spite in what’s a perfect marriage with the succinct, angry lyrics (“I don’t accept your apology / Thought you were pure / Thought you were free / Thought you were the one, the one for me”).
Trice does some clever vocal work on ‘The Waiting Room’ too, his tired voice adding to the sense of exhaustion being experienced by the narrator, who just wants the one they love to return (“Come back baby come back, come back home / If I only knew what was best you’d come back home”). ‘Wrong Direction’ is markedly more upbeat, both lyrically and musically: “The shadow boxes are what I’ve been crafting / The sun shining on the everlasting / Such a blessing to be surfcasting / Sweet talking delayed reaction,” Trice sings in an optimistic tone.
There is a pleasant and dreamlike 60s vibe to be found on ‘Long Dark Road’, a song that features hands down the best lines on the album: “Those unsettled souls like blackbirds in the rain / My Gordon’s Dry Gin down the drain / Beleaguered take my golden robe / Pass me the worn gray coat from the boy named Job,” are lyrics that present a rich tapestry of images.
‘We All Leave at Some Point’ is the final track, and it’s fatalistic in its outlook. Trice sings us out with the final lines: “Settle down don’t worry / We’ll be careful not to disappoint / Because we all leave at some point.” It’s true that we will all eventually leave this life, but Trice and his band should be comforted to know that when they do go, they will have left behind this intriguing collection of songs that showcase influences from some of the greatest Americana artists who have ever lived.