Rock’n’Reel – September 2011

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There are so many young troubadours out there called Sam, I’m getting confused: Sam Carter, Sam Sallon, Sam Lee, Sam Walter… and now Sam Brookes. I’m happy to report that Brookes can hold his own against all namesakes.
After leaving school he qualified as a gilder in his Dad’s workshop, where the music while you work was more likely 60’s folk than Radio 1. Davey Graham and Nick Drake clearly got into his bloodstream. Ray Davies has high hopes for him (they’ve toured together) and, on the evidence of his debut album, Brookes has learned from the masters.
He has a wide vocal range. On The opening track ‘In Weeks’, his voice soars and dives with the ease of a Rufus Wainwright. Add to this an assured finger-picking style – indebted, I’m sure, to the ‘folk baroque’ guitar of Bert Jansch and John Rebourn – and you have a formidable technique. The songs go to unexpected places, too: in ‘The Design’ listen to him toy with his central metaphor.
Brookes runs The Unplugged Sessions, a fort-nightly club where he features like minded artists, among them Pete Roe and Lucy Rose. There are so many new people coming through. And some, but not all of them, are called Sam.
Philip Ward



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