Stephen Pennell listens to another impressive release from another impressive Birmingham musician.
Sam Lambeth has been there, done that, and sold the tee-shirts during a decade-long meander through the music business, He’s had more bands than the line-up at Live Aid but he’s wasted no time since striking out on his own with first solo single, When Love Ain’t Enough. That has been streamed 50,000 times on Spotify and garnered the best reviews of his career, and soon after its release he announced a gig for next March (fingers crossed) which sold out in less than a week. He’s also a peerless reviewer of other people’s music, so it’s a bit daunting for a not-so-secret admirer like me to write about his new single The King.
A breezy acoustic guitar sets the scene, underscored by keyboards from Zoe Brittle which are anything but, before the drums of mercurial producer Ryan Pinson kick in and change the dynamic to full-on Counting Crows Americana. There’s enough breadth and scope in the lyrics for the listener to draw their own conclusions, but to me Sam’s tremulous vocal speaks evocatively of frustration and regret over lost love, with the maudlin REM-style mandolin providing the perfect accompaniment alongside a thrilling guitar solo.
“Whatever happened to you and me?” asks Sam in the chorus, an Everyman question if ever there was one. As a long-time fan of his entertaining, poetic and insightful music reviews, I was keen to find out if Sam was as good at writing tunes as he is at writing about them, and after a couple of listens to The King, I am delighted to answer in the affirmative.