There’s something particularly exciting about hearing new music from a brand new artist; there’s an element of the unknown of course, and also a sense of yet-unrealised potential stretching ahead. And when the new music is as good as what Sam Shields has just released, the rewards are even greater.
Start Over is a delicately nuanced track. It begins with a drawn out, warm synth note which melds almost seamlessly into a strummed acoustic guitar and then a gently paced hi-hat beat. It’s soothing, but with a clear direction – it feels mature and focused. This goes on for a few lovely bars before Sam’s vocals begin. More on that in a moment.
What do we know about Sam? Well, she’s a singer-songwriter from Liverpool, who’s gathered around her a great band of clearly talented musicians (Jon Lawton on bass, baritone guitar and synth; Daniel Ryan on synth, guitars, piano and percussion) who share a love of proper, creative musical endeavour. The trio have played live locally, but Start Over is their first recording to be released.
The vocals on the record are all Sam’s, and they are quite simply magical. There’s a beautiful immediacy to her delivery, made even more effective by the close production. Listen with headphones and you’re right there in the studio next to Sam. It’s clever and really works with the vibe of the song which, as Sam, says, is self-reflective.
“The song is about getting out of your own way,” she says. “It’s about why I keep self sabotaging everything good – learning to let go of that part of myself which is holding me back and start over.”
This is not a song with a dramatic build, but it’s strong all the same: persistent, smooth, and ever-so-gently rising as Sam sings her story. Her self-harmonies are tightly sung, and warm. The overall sense is one of close affection – Sam invites you into her world and shares what makes her tick. As a debut song this is a great approach. The song is an introduction, and an opening chapter, leaving plenty left to be said.
Start Over was written by Sam Shields, recorded at Crosstown Studios and produced, mixed and mastered by Jon Lawton.
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Words by Phil Taylor