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Sam CarterSam Carter
Album: How The City Sings
Label: Captain
Tracks: 12

In his third solo album release, Sam Carter takes us on an emotion packed journey through his personal experiences and relationships that evoke empathy and understanding.

It's sweet and sour, dark and light, we see ourselves standing in the shadows, watching over his shoulder, feeling his loss, his joy, words that paint multi-coloured pictures, sounds that conjure colour like great painters.

Starting with "From The South Bank To Soho", two young lovers know their end is coming, know that feelings are not quite enough, their lifestyles diverging in a crowded metropolis. A song set to a slow reflective pace, delicate and bright guitar lines underpinned by Sam Sweeny's mournful viola.

All subtlety is blasted away in track two, "Dark Days", which hankers to the more raucous group involvement such as his collaboration with Jim Moray in False Lights, it rocks courtesy of Matt Riley on bass, Evan Jenkins on drums and Neil Cowley on Marxophone, a chaotic hubbub, a fairground feel. The dark touch, deliciously deep.

"Fruit flies hovering in my kitchen, what do they want from me"? a question asked, avoiding the real point, putting off the moment when you collect your things, "Counting The Cost" are we honestly ever ready for this?

Considered completion, necessary evils, "And now I know what I've lost".

A theme continued in "King For A Day" until she took back his crown, a gentle reflective tale that showcases the warmth of Sam's vocals over Neil's trickling piano lines, the lull before the storm.

You can feel the weather changing, strident keyboards, anthemic lead guitar, "blow it all to Kingdom's time to set it off, it's time to drop the bomb", lyrics and phrasing that harp back to the Ziggy Stardust days of David Bowie.

And like Bowie, Carter sneaks in a non self-penned number that fits the theme, this time it's "The Grieved Soul", by M.A. Hendon and Joseph Hart, a hymn stripped to a single verse with a cacophonic guitar accompaniment that suggests short shrift with "the speaking may relieve thee" message.

Speaking, or biting you tongue. Your choice. One examined in "Taunting The Dog" a blistering beast of a rocker, swirling organ lines, a relationship turned fierce, the snarling arrogance of "I'm giving you one last chance, shut your mouth keep me sweet". Were we ever so mean?

Mean evaporates into immediate appeal, "One Last Clue" a joyful romp over a crossword with another, attuned joined up thinking, a hopeful head nodder and foot tapper of a song suggesting life goes on.

Life might go on but Carter addresses his regrets. Those moments when you consider what you've lost and when you stop and realise how much you want to share the current situation with your past love. In this case "We Never Made It To The Lakes" is a glorious examination of remembrance and regrets. It flows and bubbles like a tributary joining Windermere, gentle waves that dissipate into something huge and relaxing. If only you were here.

"Haringrey Lullaby" takes us back to the real world of sadness, a homage to the loss and incomprehensible evil involved in the "Baby P" case, a lullaby as a last goodbye.

Finally "As the morning mumbles, as the sleepers rise, as the main road rumbles, as I rub my eyes… as the Offie closes and the street lights spark, as the foxes scurry, out into the dark" Sam Carter outlines a sympathetic City soundscape, it's one you yearn to be a part of.

"When my troubles chew me, worry at my bones, may a melody renew me, a rhythm walk me home"

So ends "How The City Sings", it brings together the songs of those living and loving within the confines of London. And beyond.

A joyous statement from a master songwriter.

Ian Cripps

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