25 Jul 2024
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Sam Cullen - EP Review: Love Again

18 Apr 2024 // A review by Paul Goddard

When I first heard this brand-new EP from Invercargill native Sam Cullen, I was immediately reminded of another famous Sam who has an equally famous last name (Fender).

The four songs on the Love Again EP  have a familiarity and similarity with roots going back to Springsteen and the well-trodden stadium rock road but there is also something in the songs on Love Again that could only be grown in New Zealand. 

The lyrics will resonate with anyone but especially with people in NZ taking a look at life happening all around them and trying to figure out where they fit into it but also where they fit into life outside NZ or maybe outside their hometown.

There is introspection and reflection in the lyrics along with some wry observations. Sam is clearly trying to express his own feelings through the songs on here and he does this better than most. There is an honesty here. Like the best songwriters Sam seems to know when less is more. When not to try to be too clever or too cool and to just be honest and true. 

The songwriting is the standout for me. Sure Sam has a great voice, and the production is awesome but the way these songs have been crafted is next level. It takes real talent and hard work to make music seem this simple and almost effortless. 

I wasn't listening to how the guitar playing was or even tempted to break down each song into its parts and analyse the hell out of it. I just got immediately swept along. I know it's a cliche, but I got lost in the music.

Music is best when the sum of its parts all add up to one. One vibe that just makes you feel something. 

These songs just flow so effortlessly that as a listener you just get hooked into the soul of the song. They blend and meld together, sometimes melancholy but with an undercurrent of positivity and hope. 

Four songs and it is all over too soon. As a person who lived in NZ for over 17 years and is now in the UK listening to Love Again made me feel more than a little homesick.

Sam is following in the tradition of some great New Zealand songwriters and artists but also with an eye on the rest of the world. I would argue he is doing it as well as musicians who have been around a lot longer than he has, and he really could take up that mantle.

He has a sound that is intimate enough to blow the roof off small hometown NZ venues but also vast enough to raise the roof on Stadiums. 

Sam Cullen is a serious contender and with songs like these he could be taking stories of small-town NZ to the rest of the world. 

 

About Sam Cullen

Sam Cullen’s sound is far from what you might expect of a 22 year-old born and raised on the edge of the world in Invercargill - the bottom of New Zealand. With genuine lyrics drawn from lived experience and a rock and roll meets pop driving energy, the now Auckland-based artist is a force to be reckoned with.

Since 2022’s Run EP, Sam has honed his stadium rock influences and begins his next era of releases on May 19 with his single Forever (produced by Ben Malone) - the first track from Sam’s next body of work.

Over the past 3 years, he has steadily climbed the ladder of success; releasing two EP’s, playing on some of New Zealand’s biggest stages (including the main stage at R&V), selling out a number of headline shows and playing support slots around the country. This next era introduces a 5-piece live band that brings an incomparable onstage energy.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sam Cullen

Releases

Love Again
Year: 2024
Type: EP
Run
Year: 2022
Type: EP
1000x
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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