This is Suffolk’s own Sam Russo’s first new album for five years. Well good things can take their time, so let’s have a listen and see what’s happened since Sam’s record. I have to admit this is a new name to me, but a quick check on Discogs shows me that his debut album involved participating in a four-way split that featured Chuck Ragan, Helen Chambers and my good pal Jimmy Islip, so that’s a pretty solid endorsement before I’ve even heard a note. If you think along the lines of Chuck Ragan or Tim Barry’s solo output, that puts you in the right frame of mind to appreciate this record. They might be big names to be put up against but believe me Sam more than holds his own. He has a powerful, soulful voice that occasionally hints at Billy Bragg, although he definitely has his own style. One thing that sets this aside is that he doesn’t just rely on his voice to carry the tunes – there are some great guitar melodies on songs like Young Heroes or The Window or the haunting strings that announce the album at the start of Purple Snow.
As with many singer-songwriters there is a lot of revealing of the soul. I guess the beauty of being a solo artist is that you’re putting solely your own point of view across instead of being the voice for a bunch of people, so you can afford to be that bit more personal, offering a window into your heart. There have been some amazing releases in this vein coming from UK artists over the past few years from the likes of DL Burdon or Dan Goatham (of Spoilers fame), and it is good to see how they are getting international recognition. I’m digging this and will be delving into Sam’s back catalogue to unearth more of his sublime tunes… Tom Chapman