19 Sep 2021
UsernamePassword

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Sam Bartells - EP Review: Let's Go

08 Oct 2020 // A review by malexa

Sam Bartells has a way with words. In an interview with Darryl Baser from Muzic.net.nz in 2018, he was asked what advice he would give to an aspiring musician. His response – "Believe in yourself as everyone single person has something unique about themselves to offer" – struck me as one of those pearls of wisdom that seems so obvious, but so neglected in a social media-crazed world where we are encouraged to be followers and often base our sense of self on how many likes our posts generate.

Since that interview, Bartells has stumbled along the 'rocky road', intermittently showing glimpses of a gifted songwriter with the kind of renegade and free-wheeling spirit that reminds you New Zealand has its own rich and often under-acknowledged country heritage.

The journey has taken him to Nashville, where his talent has been nurtured and developed by multiple Grammy Award-winning producer, Daniel Robert Ford, aka Dr Ford.

The alchemy was transparent on, Blessed And Broken, the first of two singles that preceded the release of the five track EP Let’s Go.

Few artists reveal themselves raw to the core but with this song Bartells exorcised the demons of addiction with humility and heart-breaking honesty. The turning point in this powerful narrative was the image of a future when his daughter might walk up the aisle without him. Bartells captures the kind of bleak desperation that addicts or co-dependents of any kind face when they recognise their lives have hit rock bottom and there is nowhere to turn and seemingly no one to turn to except for a higher power. That moment of surrender and the blossoming sense of renewal is poignantly captured as the slow-burning song moves from hauntingly bleak to openly joyous; the vocals from fragile and tender to strong and purposeful.

Similarly, the second single, Sign, revitalises the spirit after referencing the shadows of the past. When I first heard it, I thought I was listening to Dave Dobbyn. You could actually imagine him covering it. It has that quality-crafted structure his songs always exhibit. It bends and sways, touchingly delicate and yet solid enough to carry the weight of its subject matter.

The good doctor’s hand is evident throughout Let’s Go, with subtle touches in the arrangements, particularly on the southern-fried picking and fiddling on Alone No More, while Bartells' love affair with the acoustic guitar shines on the beautifully rendered, sweeping ballad the Morning Light.

It’s the perfect sign-off for Let’s Go – a final burning of the bridges on a difficult past and a forging commitment to a brighter future.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Let's Go
Year: 2020
Type: Album

Other Reviews By malexa

DateMonthYear - EP Review: The Exodus Suite
22 May 2021 // by malexa
The metamorphosis of the genesis of Exodus into The Exodus Suite while not quite of Biblical proportions is nevertheless on a grand scale. These five degrees of separation, with accompanying videos (the final installment – which is on its way) might share the same source material but, as always, DateMonthYear founder Trevor  Faville twists and shape-shifts with an informed sense of musical invention.
Read More...
Album Review: Blood & Wires Volume One
13 May 2021 // by malexa
It’s still very much a brave new world when it comes to releasing music with its ever diminishing returns for physical product and the pecuniary stranglehold the major streaming services have on the industry. That’s why Tauranga-based boutique label Blood & Wires deserves a huge thumbs-up for its innovative and down-to-earth but wildly musically ambitious launch.
Read More...
Metanoia - Single Review: Sonder
13 May 2021 // by malexa
It’s always handy for a reviewer to have a bit of background information about an artist to get a creative context of where they have come from and where they might be heading. Metanoia is a bit of a mystery in this respect.
Read More...
Mark de Clive-Lowe - EP Review: Midnight Snacks Vol.1
16 Apr 2021 // by malexa
Mark de Clive-Lowe’s musical palette has always been so refreshing engaging and diverse that each new release is like receiving a care package – you don’t know what’s inside but you know you’ll find comfort in it. The Los Angeles-based Kiwi musician, DJ and night club and record label owner has been particularly busy in the last few years with albums and EPs ranging from the chillingly melodious jazz quartet outing Live At The Blue Whale, the steamingly funky club party Church Sessions with various cohorts and the conceptual Heritage I and II, which celebrated his bi-cultural heritage (he is half-Japanese).
Read More...
Serpent Dream - EP Review: Nova
11 Apr 2021 // by malexa
Serpent Dream's Nova is the debut release on Blood & Wires. The Tauranga-based boutique label was founded by Scott Brown last year with the express aim of raising the “profile of New Zealand based electronic and experimental artists.
Read More...
Mecuzine - Single Review: Blue Skies
15 Mar 2021 // by malexa
The slim-line edition of Mecuzine - brothers Joseph and Tony Johns – seems to have gained more than it might have seemingly lost. Blues Skies is the second single released since five became two and it’s another brooding, sonic masterpiece with an but almost tragically self-effacing punch line: “She wanted him to stay/Instead she got me/What an unlucky break”.
Read More...
Ant Tarrant - Single Review: Candle Lights
09 Mar 2021 // by malexa
Ant Tarrant has served his apprenticeship and it shows. Now back in New Zealand after following his muse to Central America and the US, where he was mentored in the art of song-writing and production, he’s settled in Kare Kare and opened up a music studio.
Read More...
Naircol - Single Review: Turbo Outrun
04 Feb 2021 // by malexa
In an interview with Naircol, following the release of his debut album Isolate late last year, he put collaborative ventures at the top of his wish list. It seems Santa Claus came calling in the form of Canadian producer Tokyo Rat, the result of which is the dynamic driving anthem Turbo Outrun.
Read More...
View All Articles By malexa

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • STAY
    The Kid LAROI And Justin Bieber
  • PEPEHA
    Six60
  • INDUSTRY BABY
    Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow
  • BAD HABITS
    Ed Sheeran
  • COLD HEART (PNAU REMIX)
    Elton John And Dua Lipa
  • HEAT WAVES
    Glass Animals
  • HAPPIER THAN EVER
    Billie Eilish
  • SHIVERS
    Ed Sheeran
  • WOMAN
    Doja Cat
  • FAIR TRADE
    Drake feat. Travis Scott
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem