What does it sound like?:
Two things happened, a few weeks ago. Firstly, a video for a young lad appeared on my TV – I have no idea what channel or programme – which grabbed my attention. Shazam revealed that it was Sam Fender. I typed the name of the song into the (growing) list of songs to go back and listen to.
A few days later I settled down to revel in the Alan Hull documentary on BBC4, only to find that the person who was (brilliantly) fronting was none other than young Fender. He even sang a terrific version of Hull’s Winter Song, my late friend Des’s favourite song.
The next morning I sat down with Spotify and queued up Sam Fender’s second album, Seventeen Going Under, which came out in July this year. Within 5 tracks I had bought the album.
I have hardly played anything else since.
The title track, (Track One, Side One, as it should be,) sounds like a song from a The War On Drugs album.
Except that it doesn’t.
Because this has anger, it has balls, it shifts along like a shifty thing. And it says something, it speaks, it paints a picture.
“I was far too scared to hit him
But I would hit him in a heartbeat now
That’s the thing with anger, it begs to stick around
So it can fleece you of your beauty
And leave you spent with nowt to offer
Makes you hurt the ones who love you”
The single that I heard, Get You Down, sounds like the best up-tempo song that The Boss has written since Radio Nowhere. Plus it has a lung-busting Clarence saxophone all over it. It is a bloody earworm, a joyous, jump up and down earworm.
Fuck me, it’s a good song.
“I never fought back
Just stood there humiliated
From the schoolyard to home
On the streets that we roam
And now I get you down”
Sam is 27 years old, from North Shields and, if you watched the Alan Hull doco, fiercely proud of that fact. When he breaks into an exaggerated Geordie accent, in Aye, the anger pours out of him in a way that makes you sit up and listen, and read his lyrics.
His slower, more contemplative songs, whilst less immediate, have a vibrancy and magic which sustains repeated listens. The Last To Make It Home is a tour de force, with beautiful, haunting feedback guitar over the end of it.
What does it all *mean*?
It means that the ‘new breed’ aren’t all ex music-school poppettes, (good though some of them are,) and South Korean boybands. There is light on the horizon for anyone looking for something with a bit more content, a bit more anger, a bit more guts.
I see that Lodestone raved about the first album, in 2018, and that several people bought this ‘new’ one on the back of him posting the video to Spit of You, which is a stunningly good song.
Straight into my Top 20 Albums of the Year list.
Goes well with…
A car journey, pre-fuelling before a night on the tiles, thinking about your life.
Might suit people who like…
Springsteen, The War on Drugs, Dylan, Clarence