exquisite guitar-picking, sumptuous arrangements and twists in tempo...
Davina Earl
09:45 12th October 2006

‘Evening Songs’ is a collection of opulent folk and blues; exquisite guitar-picking, sumptuous arrangements and twists in tempo from London-based artist Samuel Beer. As the title suggests, the album is lush and rustic; evoking sepia tinted cornfields, rippling streams and blueberry pie on sun-warmed veranda.

Beer eases us into the album with ‘Landing in Love.’ The song commences with a feather-light guitar refrain, steadily gaining speed and intensifying to a frenetic, ramshackle pace, only to be soothed by rich, smooth strings. The cycle then starts again; burbling melody, climax and abatement. Very reminiscent of landing in love, save for a couple of slanging-matches in the middle of the street at 3am. The finger-picking wizardry is repeated on second album instrumental, ‘City Bustle,’ a warm and dextrous snapshot of urban hubbub.

‘Evening Song’ is a hushed tale of lingering attachment and latent lust. Beer’s pebble-dash voice is smeared richly over flitting guitar, skittish percussion and twinkling xylophone as he confides: “I see your hair is now grown long, and your face – I see the strain. There’s still that look in your eye that makes me want to lose my mind.” It’s a feeling evidently reciprocated in a sweet female harmony. The waltzing ‘Just Like in the Movies’ elegantly combines Beer’s evocative estuary tones with violin and gliding guitar and bass. The timeless melting pot of sounds and rhythms is overlaid with the narrative of a theoretical life-sentence. “If I killed a man would you come see me? Would you say I’m sorry to all of his family? Would our hands touch through the glass in the movies?” probes Beer’s hypothetical murderer as he tests his lover’s loyalty.

The penultimate track, ‘Far From You,’ trickles in on a graceful drumbeat with sea splashes of cymbal. The scurrying rhythms recreate a crowded station where Beer thinks he’s seen his past flame. The bustling throngs frustratingly close around him, and as his train pulls away from the station, the chasm between the two seems to irrevocably widen. The song ends with an empty mechanistic grinding, and a feeling of sad inevitability.

The album comes to a close with the Jeff Buckley-esque ‘Leaving Love.’ The light, shifting rhythms of ‘Landing in Love’ are now replaced with a stark, hurt croon and numb bass-line. It’s a bleak, but beautiful culmination to an album of lost love.