EP Review of Sam Sherwin: Left In
Left In is the follow-up to Sam Sherwin‘s full-length album, Iodine Cocktails, which I reviewed here three years ago. It’s a great continuation of the vibe in that prior release, perhaps skewing a bit more toward the live blues-rock joint vibe than the big stage rock show flavor of the prior release. Still, one can’t help imagining “The Wells Run Dry” rocking a stadium crowd, too, so my comparison is a bit of an oversimplification.
The songs are tuneful and catchy. Sam’s vocals have the ability to cast a rough edginess that suggests real-life experience and emotion while still powerfully hitting all the notes. Very New Jersey rocker-ish, appropriately.
The keys and background vocals add a richness and playfulness to EP-opener “Can’t Depend On You,” balancing the earnest growling blues-rocker song style. A great introduction to the depth and breadth of Sam’s music, this song is a well-chosen first impression.
“Johnny Got Soul” follows, with a bit of a bemused feel to the vocals in the first verse, providing a matter-of-fact descriptiveness that serves the song well. The bridges divide the song into sections, providing a breath of fresh air and break in tempo that helps the listener focus on and enjoy the vibe – the soulful, bluesy vibe, natch – of the verses and chorus.
Sam slows things down with the mellow, wistful “Losing My Faith.” Driven instrumentally by piano with well-placed organ, the music bed well-supports the aching vocal delivery in the verses and chorus and is supplemented by backing vocal bridges, soaring both high and low, in the second half of the track. I know it’s a dorky music-reviewer type of thing to say that one of my favorite things about a song is its arrangement, but I’m playing that card here.
The fourth and final song on this all-too-short disc, “The Wells Run Dry,” brings back the energy. A gruffy, seedy juke joint kind of energy. Fun, with instrumental runs and a wry delivery. Picture a big auditorium, a well-choreographed lighting sequence, and a rollicking jam band feel, all in a well-structured bluesy rock song package. A great closing number to a well-bookended four-song collection.
I always dig a Sam Sherwin release. Granted, it’s generally a little hard to describe, but at its heart, it’s good, old-fashioned rock and roll with a pop-friendly flair, rooted in multiple decades of the classic rock era, with influences from a broad range of other musical genres. In this case, lots of blues, but not just. I know it’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it.
When live music returns in earnest, one place to look for upcoming gigs would be the “Shows” tab on Sam Sherwin’s ReverbNation page.