29 Jun 2022
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Sam Bartells - Single Review: Good Intentions

23 Jun 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Last year I saw Sam Bartells at The Tuning Fork with a full band, and then a few weeks ago he was playing acoustically at a tiny venue in Ponsonby with just a keyboard player for support (what an incredible night that was). In some ways his latest single is a combination of those two very different facets, as the central core of his music is always his acoustic and vocals. Sam is one of those singers where his voice is always packed full of emotion; he can easily place an edge onto it, which brings us in, as this is not yet another plastic singer looking for fame without substance but instead, he has the depth of kauri, rich and sumptuous. Recorded and mixed by David Rhodes, then mastered by Chris Chetland, the sound is as superb as one would expect from those gentlemen, but what has elevated this to the next level is the strength of the arrangements.

Mitch French is on lead guitar, sometimes right at the front playing a melody, or deeper in the background with some gentle riffs or noodling while Maia Huia provides a wonderfully warm and delicate bass. In some ways this could have been deemed to be enough, but then Shimna Higgins provides fiddle and Stephen Small the strings, and we are elevated to a folk song with a huge sound and an orchestral backing which demonstrates how Sam would not be lost performing this with the NZSO. If that was not enough, Michael Murphy of Written By Wolves has provided the backing vocals, never overpowering Sam but instead adding a level of softness and harmony which makes Sam’s vocals stand out even more.

The song is packed full of dynamics, at times we are surrounded by the music and then at others it drops away and space becomes a key element, while the guitar can be really in your face or hardly there at all. But amid all of this, the true constant, is Sam and his acoustic baring his soul for all to hear, with a country edge to his folky singer-songwriter style. I would not be surprised for this to be a major success, as it even crosses into power ballad territory, such is its strength. This is a powerful introduction for those yet to come across one of our finest performers and is definitely worth seeking out.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Let's Go
Year: 2020
Type: Album

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