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Sam Lee: Ground of Its Own

Album Reviews:

Q (Magazine) (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It all hangs together quite beautifully...investing these dark, mystical tales of false lovers and more with a dream-like quality that's as rare as it's compelling."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It demands patient attention but it's an album of unusual dignity and immense beauty."

Album Notes

English folksinger Sam Lee, a visual artist, former burlesque dancer, and survivalist skills teacher, concocts music as eccentric as his work history would suggest. Equal parts Peter Bellamy, Archie Fisher, and the Mad Hatter, Lee's take on traditional folk music is steeped in history, yet cosmic in the most literal of terms. If one were to simply read the liner notes, or more specifically, peruse the instrumentation that was utilized in creating the remarkable Ground of Its Own (shruti box, hang drum, Jew's harp, trumpet) it would be easy to presumptuously dismiss it as worldbeat/new age drivel, but within seconds of cueing up opening cut "The Ballad of George Collins," it becomes clear that Lee has so fully ensconced himself in the rustic soul of tradition, that any liberties he takes with the genre are emulsified into the past like milk fat into water. Stand-out cuts like "My Ausheen (My Old Shoes)," which goes from sepia-tone, vintage radio nostalgia into full-on chamber pop majesty, the pastoral "On Yonder Hill," which sounds like Shirley Collins Anthems in Eden superimposed over Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, and the quietly propulsive "Tan Yards Side," never sound as pretentious as the preceding descriptions would suggest, due in large part to Lee's incredibly expressive, yet even-keeled delivery, which falls somewhere between the easy vibrato of Nic Jones, the deep yearning of Bert Jansch, and the measured bravado of Martin Carthy. It shouldn't work, but it does so miraculously, resulting in one of the strangest, most evocative, and alluring debuts in ages. ~ James Christopher Monger


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