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Sam Friend: Twin

Fiona Ord-Shrimpton By

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It's probably not best practice to liken anyone to anyone, yet we do it all the time, take comfort in the left hand column on CD Baby, or the recommends on iTunes or Amazon. Forgive this Captain Obvious then, when Sam Friend's album Twin gets likened to James Taylor and his son, Ben Taylor here, so a bookmark can be left. A few more souls around like the family Taylor is no bad thing. And what the hell, "You've got a friend... in me," that other fella, Randy Newman. All friends together.

Twin, although it isn't jazz, is high quality musicality, blues and soul and a large helping of folk from y'alls' country via a young man with a big dose of jazz sensibility. Testament to Friend's flexibility, his solo work is a departure from the NO jazz sound of the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional Jass Band he also plays in.

You might never guess that Friend dedicated these songs to his late sister, Molly Rose Friend, June 3rd, 1988—October 21st, 2015, you wouldn't blame a person for locking the world out while they spent their days in a darkened room, that Friend has put together such a positive reflection of music is a warming example of dedicated loss and brotherly love. Salutes to all Friends.

"Would You Save My Life" (Solo), right off the bat sets up the familiarity of Newman and/or Taylor vocal punctuation heard throughout the album. "Fast and Still," for the SUV cowboy, a little ump-pah and B3 sustain to drive out the doldrums, but not completely. "Here We Go Again," has a noticeable bass line, storyteller lyrics and a poppy piano hook. Years of yore this would have been an MTV fave in the style of Counting Crows. "Strange Love," has sit up, rippy B3 zaps and slurs from Brad Burger, whose playing is M for munch-able, we're loving it baby, a wee small hours karaoke blues for sure. "Generate Light," yet another wish to burn bright, is full of plea and pathos.

"Show Your Face," brings out the big gutsy B3/guitar blues, "Way back in New Rochelle...Way down in New Orleans," lyrics that name check the places Friend takes his stride from. "Settle Down," has a whispering croak vocal similar to Crash Test Dummies singer, Brad Roberts, with a fixing start-stop beat and commanding church organ chords. "Rhythm or Rhyme," a previous download of the day has a melting, lamenting sax solo and a dedadeadum scat cry that turns into a walk-you-out tune, with lyrics "Where are you going, do you have the time?" is a naughty little vamping groove with jazz breaking out of the seams.

"This House Just Ain't A Home" is full of juicy organ licks that turn a rolling blues, with lyrics like "I'm sitting in a chair in my drawers," you know the guy's going to seed too soon. "Would You Save My Life," this version starts with an echoing, bells-tolling piano intro, followed up with big drums and filler bass, with a cloud of melancholy lyrics and guitar. "Becoming Who I Want To Be," has an aptly John Lennon-like piano intro that's almost ominous, the low key foreboding helps deliver lyrics with conviction and honesty, and a 'to hell with the consequences' after taste.

A pleasing find, Sam Friend has wide appeal, broad range and depth, with a lifetime of storytelling he's set for an enduring career. Listen up.

Track Listing: Would You Save My Life (Solo); Fast and Still; Here We Go Again; Strange Love; Generate Light; Show Your Face; Settle Down; Rhythm or Rhyme; This House Just Ain't A Home; Would You Save My Life; Becoming Who I Want To Be.

Personnel: Chris Severin: bass; Geoff Clapp: drums; Beck Burger: organ, piano, Rhodes & Wurlitzer; Joe Goldberg: saxophone; Sam Friend: acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, and piano.

Title: Twin | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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