Sam Duckworth – Amazing Grace
‘Amazing Grace’ is not the first album released as Sam Duckworth, but it is the first album Sam Duckworth has released since bidding farewell to Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. A change of name usually signifies a change of musical direction, I don’t think what we hear on ‘Amazing Grace’ is too much of a departure from the Get Cape sound rather a more grown up, folksier side to Duckworth that he maybe felt unable to express whilst performing under the Get Cape name that we have come to associate with a certain sound and period in time. Perhaps the name has been a barrier to success as despite releasing four albums as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Sam Duckworth’s reach has been fairly limited in the mainstream.
‘Amazing Grace’ features over 40 musicians, but doesn’t feel over worked or over thought. As much as the guest performances contribute a certain fullness to the songs, this album very much feels like a solo project. I imagine each song to have been written and then recorded within the space of a few days, without too much fussing over notes and chords but rather trying to capture the feeling in the moment and doing so perfectly. It’s not that ‘Amazing Grace’ feels undone, but effortless.
‘El Loco’ open’s the record, with an amplifier crackle and finger picked guitar the scene and my expectations are set, folky, atmospheric. The addition of a female voice, provided by Kate Nash, rounds the song out beautifully. Just under four minutes into the first track we are presented with sound bites from a children’s book interspersed with dream like music, telling us to not expect an album of pretty acoustic songs but something a little different and unpredicted.
It is clear to see why ‘Only A Fool’ was chosen as the first single release from the album, I find myself swaying to the European feeling guitar after the first few bars, and singing along by the second chorus. Summery, gentle, breezy – I defy you to not enjoy this song.
‘Geldermalsen Cargo’ is easily one of the stand out tracks. I love the story telling narrative and the unexpected guest performance by British rapper Jehst. One of the final lines of this song, sums up the theme of the album to me.
I’ve got this winning ticket for a dream that’s unredeemed.
Geldermalsen Cargo – Sam Duckworth
It seems to me that ‘Amazing Grace’ is an album by a man in his late twenties, writing about being in his late twenties. About still dreaming, and still having hope but acknowledging that life isn’t always great and we aren’t always where we need to be.
My favourite track on the album is ‘Property Pages’. I feel like whatever I write about this song won’t do it justice, I’d recommend listening to this track first if you’re unsure if Sam Duckworth is for you. A beautitful song, both musically and lyrically.
‘High Achievers’ closes the album on a high note, an upbeat track again with a European feel, a repetitive chorus and a meandering horn bring the music to a halt.
It will be interesting to see how an album so full of collaboration and outside influence will translate to live performances. If you are lucky enough to see Sam Duckworth at Victorious Festival this year do let us know what you thought!