When other artists are postponing their album releases, Sam Slatcher has brought his forward. It’s not a bad idea – he has a clear playing field as far as reviewers are concerned. Chaos & Solitude is his first full-length solo album although he is far from a newcomer, being a director of Citizen Songwriters in the North-East. He insists that he came up with the title before the current crisis struck but it’s certainly apposite.
For me, Chaos & Solitude is a slow burner. These are serious songs but no artist wants to scare off his audience by going straight for the jugular so I found the first two tracks, ‘A Thousand Miles’ and ‘Somewhere Between’ rather too sweet with Sam singing at the upper end of his register. ‘Somewhere Between’ really needs a bit more fire in its belly for me. ‘Can’t Move The Mountain Today’ is a gentle personal song and ‘February Storm’ is clearly drawn from observation but now Sam has lowered the pitch and included some sharp lines.
‘Mindlessly’ follows the same pattern as Sam ponders on what happened to the conviction of youth and laments the speed of modern life as we drift through it on our news-feeds. ‘Between Breaths’ is a mighty piano instrumental and in fact Sam plays nearly every note on the album except for Nikki Dravers’ cello on one track, Ian Stephenson’s piano on another and Mim Skinner who adds backing vocals to ‘A Thousand Miles’. It represents the mid-point of the record, segueing into the philosophical ‘You Are More Than Your Mind’. ‘Golden Hour’ is a cheerful song built on a nice guitar part and decorated at the top end of the piano.
Sam is almost happy again on the piano led ‘Springtime’ and would be happier if she was only there. ‘Nether Springs’ begins with another observation on modern life, urging us to turn our phones off and “remember who we are” – it’s possibly the best track on the album. ‘Lanterns In The Night’ is…I’m not entirely sure. I’d like to think it’s about rediscovering that lost conviction but I could be wrong. Chaos & Solitude arrived out the blue and my review copy came wrapped in a letter containing information that I presume will be incorporated into the finished design. It was also tied up in a pretty turquoise ribbon and having opened it up I’ve been unable to put it back together again. I’ll let you off, Sam.
Artist’s website: www.samslatcher.com
Chaos & Solitude – live-stream preview: