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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Sam Holmes - Stories To Tell - CD Cover
image © sam holmes 2010

More Sam Holmes:
Sam Holmes EP (2002)
Three Track EP (2007)


(22 August 2010) British singer songwriter Sam Holmes debut album Stories To Tell (6 43157 41169 7, 2010) is a collection of twelve songs produced to highlight the singer's stunning vocal work. The album is the culmination of a decade's work and while it includes four tunes from earlier EPs released in 2002 and 2007 (see review links left), the project represents a significant advance and a milestone in the artist's career. iTunes classifies the album as "folk" but it is clearly fits quite well into the singer songwriter genre.

Stories To Tell, Sam (lead vocals, guitar, backing vocals) is accompanied by George Shilling (cello), Andy Nowak (guitar, piano, double bass, accordion, hammond), Jeff Spencer (bass), Jane Bartholomew (backing vocals), Matthew Jones (drums and percussion), and Ben Bennion (acoustil and electric guitar). Further guests on individual tracks include: Susan Sheenan (backing vocals), Clare Winter (backing vocals), Ben Bennion (electric and acoustic guitars), Guy Fletcher (fiddle and mandolin), George Shilling (bass, cello).

Sam Holmes grew up in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire where her father exposed her to a wide range of music from an early age. He took her to music festivals, folk clubs and gigs from an early age and as a result Sam has been writing and performing for over fifteen years. She cites her musical heroes and inspirations from the world of folk and rock as diverse as Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Amy McDonald. These influences, although not derided from, can be heard in the craftsman ship of her songs, and the delicate romantic nature of the lyrics.

Sam's album is certainly the culmination of extensive work. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by George Shilling and co-arranged by Sam and George. Recording was done at Bank Cottage Studios, Wincraft Studios and one track was recorded at the world famous Abbey Road Studios. Songs were written by Same Holmes except "The Drowned Lover" where music was written by Sam but the lyrics are anonymous. "Killing The Blues" was written by R. Sailey. The album was self-released. Photography used in the four page booklet and tray artwork is superb.

The tracks on Stories To Tell are light and airy with arrangements that perfectly support Sam's vocal work. This is an album perfect for late on a Saturday night or Sunday morning and will be right at home in any coffee shop environment. The tunes are soft and calming with vocal layers adding texture to Sam's lovely lead. "Falling Down," the one track recorded at Abbey Road, is one of the album's clear standouts. It's evident in every aspect from writing, vocal performance and delicate arrangement.

"Killing The Blues" is also one of the more noteworthy tracks with an excellent texcture arising from the backing vocals provided by Susan Sheenan and Clare Winter as well as Sam herself. Sam's lead is crystalline and right up front. Shilling's work in the studio has contributed to the high quality of Sam's debut album. The album is currently available from the artist's website and sold at her gigs. Selected tracks from a 2008 collection are available at iTunes. We don't know if the versions on the debut album are the same as these or not. The production team have truly delivered a really good collection of light folk-tinged singer songwriter tracks that are certain to draw additional attention to Sam Holmes' work.

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