Sam Burton “I Can Go With You” (Tompkins Square, 2020)

A moody, woozy debut album, given life in the salt flats of Utah. ‘Downer Folk’ is what the PR blurb calls it; quite succinctly put too. Drenched in echo, Burton’s voice is as sad as Orbison (but not quite as dramatic) and lost somewhere in time with Tim Buckley. There’s almost a Mazzy Star feel here, an intoxicated haze.  As a whole, the album feels quite appropriate given the grey, locked-down November vibe we’re experiencing right now. Sam Burton brings the weariness, and then some. ‘Why Should You Take Me There’  (no question mark) is a stand out track, the chorus ups the almost unspeakable sadness to a new peak, as the organ churns and gurgles behind Burton pain. ‘I Am No Moon’ is ushered in by violins and a galloping acoustic guitar which only serves to emphasise the super-slow motion despair. It’s fair to say that these songs are decidedly one-paced. Burton has his A Game and he sticks to it doggedly. But when it’s all about the mood, as this record is, then you can’t say that he’s a one-trick pony.

‘Wave Goodbye’ is Burton resigned, letting go of a broken past in the best Big O tradition. The acoustic guitar’s constant presence gives the song something of a raga feel.  Please, Dear Reader, do not go to Sam Burton if you wish to be cheered up – he’s really, really not going to do that for you. However, he’ll sooth your sadness and reassure you that you’re not alone. Which is what we all need sometimes.

Downer Folk. File under 'Buckley' and 'sweet despair'.
8/10

Author: Mark Nenadic

Quite likes music. Doesn't really like people. From The North. Exiled in The Midlands due to radical views on whippets/flat caps. Beards and plaid shirts belong on Willie Nelson. Everybody else should smarten up a bit ..

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