Sam Llanas “Return of the Goya – Part 1” (Llanas Music, 2018)

As this review was being submitted, news broke in the USA of allegations about Sam Llanas made by Tessa Neumann, stepdaughter of BoDeans frontman Kurt Neumann. Graphic and detailed, they go back to when Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas were together in BoDeans. Llanas has denied the allegations and at the time of writing, there is no sign that the allegations have been made through any official channels, nor has a formal legal response been made.

So, what to do with the review? Perhaps anyone reading this far should Google all the details as they appear. Then decide whether to read any further or listen to the album. The music is the same as it was last week, but possibly the context in which it is heard has changed?

When touring the UK with BoDeans in 1987, Sam Llanas’s beloved Goya acoustic guitar was stolen in Manchester. Never forgotten, and sadly mourned, decades later a fan-sourced enough similar parts to send to Llanas that a reconstruction could be made. Not his actual guitar, but close enough that the inspiration poured out into dozens of new songs. Back before Americana was a label, BoDeans were referred to as a roots/rock band, and ‘Pt. 2′, due later this year will have the rockier stuff. ‘Pt. 1′ though is definitely the roots, in fact it goes way back, with it often feeling like 1950’s country, often straight from the porch.  The best, most obviously joyful songs are top loaded, with lead off track ‘Follow Your Heart’ precisely setting the album’s tone with “Well it’s a beautiful summer day…”, the song swathed in layers of lovely pedal steel.

Some of the later tracks are folksy, tending to mawkish self-indulgence, but then it is his album, so he can ditty all he likes. Looking forward to ‘Pt. 2’.




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