His vocal is like a fine, smokey single-malt whiskey. Or perhaps a beautifully aged brandy- presented in a wooden case that looks older than life itself. The superlatives emanating around Sam’s talent are endless- but there’s nothing that can prepare you to hear one of the most beautiful (and effortless) vocals recorded in recent times. This tied with deep thinking, almost philosophical musicality and honest lyrical content makes Sam a truly stand out singer-songwriter (though he hates that label).
His Outlines project has seen 8 songs personally birthed, and given flesh by a close group of gifted musician friends. Rich piano harmony, that effortless vocal and intricately woven alternative instrumentation. All brilliantly put together- but it’s the songs that really shine through, including the simply stunning ‘Carnegie Hall’.
Long live the daydreamers.
HONED AS A SESION PLAYER
Born in Wales in the halcyon era of the mid 80’s, Sam grew up playing plastic saxophone solos to imaginary crowds- being fed on a steady diet of Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. A self taught singer and pianist, he landed his first job at 17 as a fancy cocktail lounge pianist in a sticky floored South Wales pub. The unashamed Billy Joel fan left Wales to study Music and Film Composition in Sussex, imbibing 3 years of Beethoven sonatas, Rachmaninov concertos- a classical dousing that helped ground the dreaming (and head scratching) student.
8 years out of university threw Sam into the session world- as a vocalist and keyboard player. Touring, arena shows and over 100+ sessions can only have a consolidating effect on a person- a trial-by-fire and unparalleled opportunity to watch, learn and hone a craft while not in the direct limelight. It’s in these formative years that the songwriting heroes of Sam’s past combined with the inspiration of artists he was then working with to uncover a deeply rooted songwriting gift- seeded there by the likes of conspirators Mitchell, Simon and Joel.
OUTLINED AS A WRITER
By this time Sam had also begun to sing and lead the music at large Christian festivals- including Soul Survivor and New Day, the latter for which he was music director and live-album producer. These roles naturally leant themselves to a dabbling in writing- years of absorption beginning to overflow and find an outlet.
Outlines came out of a darker season of these session years- a dry patch in work led to a self-analysis and the opportunity to take time in voicing the inner turmoil. What better way than through song-writing, a craft Sam had now intentionally began to develop.
The result? The 8 songs that would become Outlines- 8 piano demos in their rawest form filled with questioning, thoughtful lyrics and that practiced vocal over (an at times angsty) piano harmonic. A subconscious regurgitation of years of absorbing his songwriting heroes. These were given to a talented pool of close friend session musicians- Si Francis (Ellie Goulding, Diagrams), Jonny Bird (Saint Raymond, Army of Bones), Tim Cooke (David’s Lyre) and Steve Evans- to collaboratively produce, developing into the 2 EPs released in 2013 and 2014.
The 8 original piano demos are due out as a final release (on Bespoke, preorder 14/7/17)- “Sketches”, a fitting epilogue focusing back to the original raw quality of Sam in their simplest form. Songs. Vocal. Piano.
Sam’s writing hasn’t finished there, as he continues to pen and release music, most recently an EP with his wife Becki- “I Believe”, and has accepted a new challenge moving to Washington D.C. to lead the music at a fresh new church plant with their 2 children.
For Sam the years of session playing may be over- but the songwriting wealth absorbed into his very being is only just beginning to seep out.