June 9, 2022 by 1888media
Sam Robbins has found his voice. It wasn’t lost, it wasn’t hiding, it wasn’t predicated on swiveling chairs in a celebrity lair, it was there all along. With contemplation and spiritual affirmation, with lessons learned and corners yet turned, his true voice is no longer searching. There’s no “perfect” but there is purpose.
Expanding on his identity as an “old soul singer-songwriter,” the Portsmouth, NH-born, Nashville-based artist continues to put a modern spin on the sounds of classic 70s singer-songwriters like James Taylor, John Denver and Jackson Browne, injecting the style with his own playing and writing voice. Add in a splash of the lighter side of Dave Matthews and the smooth conversational style of Jack Johnson and you have an artist poised to carry the torch into evermore.
On Bigger than in Between (due August 5, 2022), the follow-up to his acclaimed debut album, Finally Feeling Young (which contained a pair of Kerrville Folk Fest New Folk-winning songs), the collection showcases a mature, fully-formed artist making a statement.
In contrast to his last project, recorded DIY-style in his living room, this time Robbins recruited producer Neilson Hubbard (Jesse Terry, Amy Speace, Matthew Perryman Jones) and an all-star band of Nashville session players to elevate his sound. The collection of twelve songs, all recorded live, is a loose, exciting representation of Sam’s songwriting voice.
“Much of this album was written in quiet moments during Covid lockdown when I was experiencing a deep shift in the way I viewed the world and my place in it. I’ve never been prouder of any songs I’ve written because they were written solely to connect and communicate my vision and heart to you,” offers the 25-yr old songwriter.
The LP’s title track, which lands first, is apt for where the world is at. Its denizens, its very existence. Connecting with people, sharing experiences, forging friendships and strengthening relationships, life is better in numbers, it’s better than the idealism in between the seams. With interpolation from Stephen Foster’s great American proclamation, “Hard Times Come Again No More” (published 1854), which has been interpreted/referenced by artists ranging from Dylan to Ray Charles to Mavis Staples, the album immediately sets the stage for a spiritual awakening.
The title track features harmony vocals from Nashville-based artist, and frequent collaborator, Halley Neal. Other contributors include Juan Solorzano (Ruston Kelly’s guitar player) and Michael Rinne, from Miranda Lambert’s band, and work with Jack White, Alicia Keys, and Willie Nelson.
While enjoying the experience of auditioning for The Voice in 2018, in which Adam Levine espoused, “You have a gorgeous, gorgeous voice,” and being welcomed back for a second engagement, which included an in-person mentor session with Kelsea Ballerini, Robbins is moving forward with his purpose affirmed. On “Wouldn’t Change a Thing”, in which he addresses his frustration with the music industry, “As if chasing after youth isn’t just a lifetime of mourning. But now I see that it’s all bullshit, and nobody knows what they’re doin’,” the song is meant to provoke a reaction. Its freedom isn’t passive. Its distorted guitars and heavy percussion are active as they underscore the evisceration of the bubble.
It’s a blueprint that’s evidenced throughout his 12-song journey. From the Americana muscle of lead single “Reverence,” to the lilting Jim Croce-esque “Hard to Hate,” to the countryside pine of “What Kind of Faith Are You Praying In?” to the spacious Ottmar Liebert vibe of “All The Pieces Are There” to closer “Some Things Never Change,” which was written as an assignment from the great singer-songwriter David Wilcox, ‘Bigger Than in Between’ touches on everything from the last few years – inventive political songs, introspective musings, and fun, upbeat tracks that tell it all through Robbins’s eyes.
Complementing the music is packaging that’s reminiscent of LPs of yore, ones released in the 60s and 70s by Capitol, Columbia and Blue Note Records. Crafted with vinyl in mind, the artwork is adorned with a close-up photo and a vintage “Stereo” logo, allowing plenty of circumference for the eventual cylindrical imprint that’s made after decades of being saved.
With every last thoughtful detail, Robbins is less held by genre and industry norms. A collection of raw expression, with the goal to communicate as directly as possible, ‘Bigger than in Between’ is where his heart has always been. Hard times may come again but he’s made the decision to follow his intuition. What kind of faith are you praying in.
Sam Robbins on Tour
6/24 – Belleville, IL – Venue on Main
6/30 – Nashville, TN @ The 5 Spot
7/08 – Cary, NC – House concert
7/09 – Washington, DC – House concert
7/14 – Reading, MA – House concert (w/ Halley Neal)
7/15 – Portsmouth, NH – House concert
7/16 – Basking Ridge, NJ – Ross Farm (opening for Carrie Welling)
7/23 – Manchester, NH – House concert
7/28 – Bridgewater, MA – Bridgewater Music Alley
7/29 – Hillsdale, NY – Falcon Ridge Folk Fest (Emerging Artist Stage)
7/31 – Bridgton, ME – Hayloft at Dragonfly Barn (w/ Halley Neal)
8/04 – Cambridge, MA – Club Passim (Album release)
8/05 – Portsmouth, NH – House concert
8/07 – Francestown, NH – Old Meeting House (Sundays at 4)
8/19 – Spring Lake, MI – Free Fridays Concert Series
8/21 – Pittsburgh, PA – House concert
8/26 – Robbinsville, NJ – The Folk Project Troubadour (opening for Carla Ulbrich)
8/27 – Robbinsville, NJ – House concert
9/15 – Nashville, TN – Interstate 88 @ Arnold’s Country Kitchen (AmericanaFest)
9/17 – Alto, MI – House concert
9/19 – Indianapolis, IN – Irving Theatre
9/22 – Chattanooga, TN – JMac’s (w/ Andy Sydow)
9/23 – Woodstock, GA – Rootstock Listening Room (w/ Andy Sydow)
9/30 – Maplewood, MO – The Focal Point (w/ Andy Sydow)