End of February 2020, I had literally laid down the final vocal tracks of what would be my debut solo and within a week or two everything changed. The lockdown arrived, gigs were cancelled, workshops postponed, but I had a brand new album to hand, named rather fortuitously ‘Chaos & Solitude’.
So I decided to bring forward the release of ‘Chaos & Solitude’ (which is out today Friday 22 May) as the theme of the album took on a new meaning with the Covid crisis. Although the album was named ‘Chaos & Solitude’ reflecting the turbulent years of political division, the deepening climate crisis and my own reflections on turning 30, it suddenly speaks into an entirely different context. We have had ‘solitude’ thrust upon us – not being able to travel, visit places and see friends – and yet most of us have so little experience of solitude.
The song Nether Springs, for example, laments the lost connection with nature (“I don’t know the birds that pass me by, can’t name the stars above my sky to my shame”) and invites us to discover the solace of nature. You Are More Than You Mind follows a similar theme, begging the listener to push past the fear of the silence.
The album has been very kindly reviewed by FATEA magazine:
“Sam has made something very beautiful, that uses soft thoughtful tones to deliver a powerful overall message. Anger and frustration are transmuted into kindness and reassurance and hope. It's a lovely, perceptive, thoughtful and thought-provoking piece of work and a very promising debut solo album from a skillful and original songwriter and musician”
The album was recorded in two locations, with half the tracks recorded by Ron Angus at Studio One in County Durham and the other half on a snowy February day up in Thropton, Northumberland, with Ian Stephenson. The album hangs around the theme of ‘breathe’ with the middle track Between Breaths a piano instrumental titled ‘between breaths’; between the chaos of recent year and the solitude found in nature, discovering the calm in one’s breath, and finding kindness in sharing these strange times with others.