By now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you who Sam Russo is. On the off chance that you’re unfamiliar though, he’s a singer-songwriter from the Suffolk town of Haverhill, known for being one of the largest towns in England without a train station (thanks Richard Beeching) and, in all honesty, not much else.
I feel pretty confident saying that growing up in an Eastern market town has probably had a load to do with shaping who Sam Russo is as a person; leading to the singer-songwriter who has just released his second full length.
When Sam’s first album – 2012’s Storm – first came out I’ll admit, I was disappointed. My experiences of Russo up to this point were the angry, shouty, punk yelling lyrics about Joe Strummer and Borstal. That his album was a lot quieter and softer didn’t sit well with me.
The more I listened to it, however, the more I realised how refined Sam’s songwriting had got. Out were the shouted, obvious lyrics, and in were almost hushed whispers with more intelligent wordplay. Once I got the album (finally), I fell in love.
So, this leads us three years down the line and onto Greyhound Dreams, which follows on nicely from Storm. The production is more stripped back. Dreams features mostly just Sam’s voice and guitar whereas Storm had added percussion and other bits and pieces. The lyrics are more apparent with less else going on to distract. When there are additional touches – such as El Morgan’s vocals or Kelly Kemp’s violin – it only serves to enhance what you’re listening to. Lyrical themes don’t vary too much from Storm; small-town life rears its head a fair bit, as do American road trips, touring and love; which isn’t to say this is just a remake of Storm, more of a well-crafted sequel. The kind of sequel that takes what the first gave you and enhances and builds upon it.
All in all, this is another high quality release from Sam Russo and definitely a worthy addition to any record collection. There’s enough heartbreak here for a Tammy Wynette fan, enough DIY attitude for your average punk, and enough honesty for anyone who has a soul.
– Ian Perry