Friday, 8 June 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Carter Sampson - Lucky : Continental Recording Services

Carter Sampson already has the prestigious accolade of ‘Albumof the Year 2016’ in her bank for the immaculately connective WILDER SIDE and now sights are set as where her new record LUCKY ascends to on its meandering and exploratory journey. For this is how her music gets around, no big bang just a slow burning saunter around the musical collections of the discerning listener. Luckily, for Carter, the twin bait of the sumptuous song wrapped in an enticing voice is attracting more and more folks. The new album finally gets its formal UK release via Continental Recording Services on June 8th, although many are already captivated by its availability at her live shows and a brief exposure on the streaming wires. Release day may be an extra focal point, but just a mere spot on the eventual journey of an album destined to favourably project the music of this Oklahoma based artist.

There is a therapeutic appeal to listening to Carter Sampson. The voice encapsulates the spirit of her delicately spun songs, although on this album she diligently dips into the works of others on three separate occasions. Yet there is still a purposeful side to her song writing bringing out the best in the archetypal Oklahoma songwriter stretching back from the archives of Guthrie to the contemporary musings of Fullbright and Moreland. Catching the ear on the writing front in a recorded format for the first time is the engaging tale of ‘Rattlesnake Kate’. A long term favourite of her live set and one that chronicles the endearing story of a feisty character in full quirky mode. Americana storytelling at its best.

An emerging thought whilst listening to Carter Sampson intently is a vocal resemblance to Miranda Lambert, or vice-versa if you choose sides. Maybe it is an Oklahoma/Texas axis or just a thought that Miranda wants to be more like Carter. No doubt, an exchange is on the table for a price.

Just like her previous album, and a little further back to MOCKINGBIRD SONG, it is the overall vibes of a record rather than a monster track that lifts it above the pack. Yet many golden nuggets wait to be mined as each track is explored. At the outset, ‘Lucky’ sets the theme of being grateful to possess the opportunity to make a living from writing and performing songs. However, the real good fortune lies in those feasting on the gorgeous music made.

Strict detail to the accompanying soundtrack for this selection of songs as led Carter in the direction of several acclaimed Oklahoma musicians including Jared Tyler, who was last seen in the UK playing impressive sidekick to Malcolm Holcomb. Americana will be the overriding label attached to the music especially from an overseas perspective, but Carter can mix it with the perceived country hierarchy in the heartfelt way she immerses herself into each song. At the concluding point of the album, she ditches the song writer tag and takes on the role of the quintessential country singer ripping the sentiment out of the much covered Shel Silverstein song ‘Queen of the Silver Dollar’.

While on the subject of exploring the work of other writers, the decision to be the first to record the blissful song ‘Hello Darlin’’ is a shrewd decision. This outstanding track was penned by Zac Copeland, who was also responsible for the Kalyn Fay state inspired song ‘Tulsa’. This track takes the theme of the rivalry between the twin urban centres of Oklahoma City and Tulsa before slinking into murkier waters of identity and deceit.

Of the remaining Carter Sampson-penned originals, ‘All I Got’ spins out its mesmeric tones, adorned with the memorable line ‘walked a mile in another man’s shoes, while ‘Ten Penny Nail’ takes its inspiration from a turbulent episode in the Guy and Susanna Clark story. So why not use a song-writing great to write a great new song.

The term ‘wild’ reappears in this record courtesy of ‘Wild Ride’ revealing the album in a satiable comforting mood as the vibes take root. These really begin to sink deep in the early stages where ‘Anything Else To Do’ and ‘Peaches’ herald a delectable sound, fully confirming that the echoes of WILDER SIDE are fully transmitted to LUCKY.

Carter Sampson is right at the heart of a bunch of American singer-songwriters currently creating waves in Europe, fully adept at exporting their own unique style of Americana. LUCKY will be around for a long time and is well on the way towards matching the heights of WILDER SIDE. This is captivating music capable of shifting through a pile of mixed emotions to find the primal point.