When Ray Davies dubs you, at only 24 years old, “absolutely amazing” you should know you’re onto a good thing. For Sam Brookes who first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 in the workshop where his father renovated old guitars; listening to the likes of Bert Jansch, John Martyn and Nick Drake it was evident a career in music was on the cards. In fact back when he was 18 years old his pop-rock outfit The Volt made appearances at Glastonbury and Brighton’s Great Escape, though Brookes soon traded this in for a return to the capital and a return to a rootsier calling.
In the past year he has toured under this new troubadour guise with the likes of Scott Matthews, Cherry Ghost and in the near future Emmy the Great, while his eponymous LP, produced by Chris Hughes, is set for release on Helium Records at the end of the month.
There are echoes and intonations reminiscent of Tim Buckley and John Martyn, while his intricate finger-picking style is instantly recognisable as his own, standing far above his peers. Brookes’ songs are stream-of-consciousness, wordy and worldly observations, with an immediacy and distinct character. Opener ‘In Weeks’ fleshes out over its four minute course into a toe tapping, homegrown travelling number. While ‘Travelling Man’ exposes a timelessly engaging narrative style, simplistically framed with unobstrustive acoustic guitar and weary strings.
Guitar and vocal gifts aside, the production of the recording is crisp without being overproduced, letting Brookes talents speak for themselves, peppered with touches of jazz tinged percussion, fiddle accompaniment and piano this is certainly an engaging listen from the start, but by no means will Sam Brookes be a short lived talent. Melanie McGovern