On April 29, Forty Below Records, home to albums by John Mayall, Bonson Berner and KaiL Baxley, will issue the extraordinary debut album by singer-songwriter Sam Morrow. Entitled Ephemeral, the release marks the first one issued under an arrangement with Sony/RED Distribution and MRI, home to partnerships with artists such as Billy Bragg, The Black Crowes, Johnny Winter, Sinead O'Connor, Joseph Arthur, Los Lonely Boys, Bob Schneider and Hank3.
Raised on the muddy waters of coastal Americana, Sam Morrow brings a gritty sustenance to his music, evocative of a threadbare soul, decades his elder.
Morrow is forthright in his self-awareness, “Coming from a background with a love for all music, I found it challenging to nail down my style. Between everything I listened to, I saw a single commonality: honesty. Whether it’s Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Damien Rice, or David Ramirez, they all have these heavy truths woven in their writing that you don’t want to believe, but have to, because you’ve been there, you’ve felt that, you’ve seen those things. And it’s from that well of honesty I write.”
But to be honest, three years ago this album might never have happened. Three years ago these songs might never have been written. Three years ago, Sam was barely alive. He was a shell of a soul and a withered voice. A 20-year old man entering his prime, found himself trapped by the burden of a destructive life.
Morrow recalls, “As I fought through my addiction, music was an unshakable constant. It was there in the depths, it carried me in the chaos, and when I sobered up, it offered me redemption. Thus, I wanted to make a record full of contradictions, constants, and loss, to reflect the lives we all live.”
Whereas some pen about pain from a distant perch, Sam walked through the darkness and survived to see the dawn. And like eyes given a second chance, his lyrics are drenched in an unvarnished realism. His honest, homespun outlook brings us face-to-face with that which we ourselves are afraid to admit. Like the long line of southern songwriters before him, Sam invites audiences along for the ride; the tragedy and triumph. His shows are not performances but immersive experiences for any and all. Humbled by the unflinching realities of recklessness, his stage is a welcome mat.
Sam's quest for the truth is ever-evolving, “I started out in churches and now play in bars, but I’ve found crowds are pretty much the same wherever I go. We’re all searching for something bigger than ourselves, some truth we haven’t found yet. But that’s what keeps us searching, because the moment we quit looking, is the same moment our pens run out of ink.”
Ephemeral opens with the hushed strum and tentative words of “War”. The pursuit of happiness in the face of domestic conflict is embodied in the building tensions between Sam’s incendiary vocal and Freddy Koella’s (Bob Dylan) somber violin. The album then flows to "December," where the lyrics grapple with the pains and struggles of a long distance relationship, where Sam admits that although he has changed, he is still flawed and love is the companion he desperately needs, as he battles past demons. As with every journey out of darkness, “Sure Thing” carries the record into the light, dwelling on the reality that the greatest joy often follows the most chilling pain. And, if we can just hold on, it’s worth the wait.
Ephemeral is Sam’s debut album, produced and engineered by Eric Corne (John Mayall, DeVotchKa, KaiL Baxley). After years of wrestling with addiction and purpose and sound, he believes this is the direction that will chart his future. This 10-song set is a diverse collection that provide a glimpse into a very promising future.
Corne describes the rich essence of this promising young talent, “A Sam Morrow performance is a cathartic experience like few you will encounter. Drawing on life experiences way beyond his 23 years, Sam opens his soul and lays his emotions bare. These songs will seep into you like oil into wood. Take notice, Sam Morrow is a great young American song writer.”
To celebrate the release of Ephemeral, Morrow will play a special record release show at Hotel Café on Thursday May 1 at 10pm. Advance tickets for $10 are available at https://www.hotelcafe.com/tickets/?s=events_view&id=2789. Further dates throughout the Southwest and Texas to be announced soon.
"Want to hear something impressive? Listen to 'War'. It is exceptional!" Frank Gutch Jr
“His upcoming disc reveals him as an impressive, wiser-than-years troubadour.” Michael Berick, Musical Shapes
“A charismatic blues experience ‘Ephemeral’ is a one of a kind album, making Morrow an artist to look out for.” Patrick Hickey Jr, Review Fix"It doesn’t take long until Sam starts singing and you’re hooked...I can hear Springsteen, I can hear Mumford & Sons." Sebastian Weill (musician)
May 01 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hotel Cafe (10pm) [CD release]
2. Old Soul
3. Sure Thing
9. True North