'ChordBlossom KickStart Finalist 2017'
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'Pure M Awards 2017 Best Male (Solo Artist) Shortlist'
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- REVIEWS -
Co. Down singer songwriter Sam Wickens has released the first single ‘Falling’ from his breathtaking debut album set for release in May/June 2019. Having wowed legendary producer Tony Visconti with his Jeff Buckley-esque voice and mesmerising performances, he was picked up in 2018 to appear on Sky Arts Unsigned Heroes, being mentored by Stuart Copeland, Nitin Sawhney and Imelda May.
‘Falling’ is a deeply moving melodic track that pulses and buries itself into your head as Wickens’ passionate vocals create that spine chilling ”stop in time” feeling. A throbbing beat cuts deep into the flickering soundscape as Wickens takes a simple approach allowing his emotion-filled crisp and mesmerising vocals wrap you in a soft snuggle, shielding you from the biting backdrop. The track builds gradually as twinkling guitars lament through the gripping beat and brooding backing vocals. The song reaches its cinematic, wholly absorbing crescendo as Wickens pines and broods over a haunting atmosphere. It’s a well crafted, immersing track that chills and soothes all at once. Wickens’ vocals are outstanding and every note he sings holds its own depth. His voice is filled with passion and oodles of emotion – he’s is quite the outstanding singer.
On his new release Wickens says “I wanted to create a family of songs, I needed an open space to be able to get different aspects of my mind out! I wanted to make something new, something not everyone will like, but they all will respect. Music is my way of communicating with people and the world. – ‘Falling’ is honesty, when you don’t want to be honest or simply you can’t.”
Sam Wickens hails from Northern Ireland. In 2017 he worked with Tony Visonti who, if you don’t know, produced some of your favorite records, including the entire Berlin Trilogy (David Bowie’s Low, Heroes, and Lodger). The collaboration, documented by SkyArts, led to Wickens working with Stuart Copeland, Nitin Sawhney and others.
Falling, written by Wickens and Sean McAuley, features a compelling musical juxtaposition. We have vocals, devoid of any processing, enveloped in quantized (so, grid-based or rigidly regular) electronics. We should pause here to duly consider and praise the restraint that led to this pairing. It is incredibly rare to hear a bare, human voice in the midst of electronic music. But here it is, and the backdrop of the buzzing electronics provides a foil for Wickens voice, which soars, especially in the chorus. The vibrato Wickens employs for his falsetto gives the impression of weeping. This effect, far from vapid, is incredibly moving, full of pathos. It recalls Bowie’s rendition of Wild Is The Wind. The singing is theatrical, absolutely – but in a way that brings the audience closer.
Sam Wickens is a rising singer-songwriter from Co. Down whose soul-infused folk music has merited comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Lou Reed.
In 2016, he performed at the prestigious Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville and began working under producer Tony Visconti one year (Bowie, Paul McCartney, Kaiser Chiefs), where he was mentored and honed his craft.
Premiering on the site today is his new single ‘Falling’, and mere seconds in you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
‘Falling’is one of the most sincere songs we’ve heard in a long time. It opens with fluctuating synth swells and grand drum hits amidst other soundscapes, but they become secondary once Wickens’ crooning vocal enters. It commands your full attention on entrance: it’s fore-frontal but never overbearing, believable but not preachy.
He said that “‘Falling’ is honesty, when you don’t want to be honest or simply you can’t” and that sums up the track well. It very much feels like the protagonist is balancing on a fine line between truth and deception, and this is mirrored in the emotive chorus’ and refined verses.
‘Falling’ marks Wickens as a welcome discovery and promising addition to Ireland’s folk scene.
Ruth Cronin - Nialler9
"Sam is an incredible singer-songwriter and performer. It's only a matter of time before everybody will hear about him. He's going to be big!"
Moya Brennan, Clannad
"his voice is just sublime.. Phenomenal"
"absolutely haunting and delightful.."
"Gorgeous stuff.. absolutely great.."
Cherrie McIlwaine, BBC Radio Ulster
"A real soulful, bluesy aged quality... reminds me of John Martyn, Bon Iver... Very impressed by this. One to keep an eye on.."
Chris Jones, Across The Line, BBC Radio Ulster
"As soon as I heard Sam open his mouth I was entranced. His lyrics are well beyond his age. Sam leaves his listeners in awe and drawn in to hang on to every word."
Sonia Leigh, Singer-songwriter/actress TV Drama 'Nashville'
"An incredible talent, not just as a songwriter.. there's something about his voice that is really amazing.. this guy is definitely a proper talent. Mixes together a lot of very Soulful and Gospel sounds.. He's only 20.
This is absolutely amazing.. an astonishing voice.."
Ralph McLean, Local Voices, BBC Radio Ulster
"this mesmerising talent, gorgeous.. heart wrenching"
Sophie Ellis, BBC/Wandsworth Radio, London
'Sam is the real deal, phenomenal'
Tony Moore, SoHo Radio
"A profoundly rich, well-rounded and earthy sound, Wickens’ is a wonderfully gifted singer-songwriter whose music undoubtedly rouses the soul.
The delectable blend of soul, blues, folk and gospel that Wickens’ weaves through each of the six tracks on Send Me sets him apart from his peers and comfortably amidst his contemporaries.
Such a deeply and mature sound created by Wickens, it is hard to believe that he is still in his early twenties. I have heard older folk artists that lack the maturity and depth of composition that comes so easily to him. A beautiful ebb and flow of emotion, each track has its own personality, its own defining characteristics, his raw creativity penetrates through each layer of each piece to grab at you and so beautiful is each track in its own right that his unique sound lingers on in your peripheral long after the EP has ended.
The title track is incredibly haunting and it’s no surprise why it has surpassed every other track on this EP to hold pride of place.
Opening track ‘Breath’, for me is in its own way breath-taking. I have heard a number EP’s from up and coming new talent and there are very few that grab me so instantly. ‘Hold the Time’ is another beautiful track – I am a real sucker for a song that makes such a poignant feature of an enchanting piano accompaniment.
It’s hard not to love every track on this album, or to say that they aren’t all enchanting, mesmerising or hypnotic. Send Me is more than just music, it is more than a well composed EP, it is something that should be felt – and very few musicians these days can make you feel their music, experience their music on a deeper level.
A Bangor native he may be but what he has to offer to the world of music is like nothing you hear hailing from our fair shores. There is something of an old soul in Wickens’ music, a worldliness to his music that is as sincere as it is incomprehensible. His unique style and stand out sound will carry him a long way as he forges a reputation as a down to earth, mesmerising musician and live performer.
‘Send Me’ is a must for any music desperately seeking to sink their teeth in to something sharp and fresh."
“As I listen to Sam I get goosebumps when I realise he has just turned 20, sings with such purity and rawness combined, writes in ways that leave the listener wanting immediately more, and he’s just starting out! Sam will change lives through his music”
Les Hume, Dawsons Music, Belfast
"Deeply felt lyrics delivered via heartbreakingly soulful vocals. Indie with a definite blues slant brings to mind comparisons to Foy Vance, David Gray, and Hozier.
Sam Wickens can confidently take his place amongst this upper echelon of singer songwriters.
Each song segues seamlessly into the next. A rich, picturesque collection of poetic tracks. And that voice. Stunning.
'Breathe' highlights this striking voice, as does the live version of ‘Oh Mother’; which I must admit kind of knocked my socks off. "Trees’, and again, ‘Oh Mother’ feature superb blues guitar riffs.
Title track 'Send Me' gave me goosebumps.
At the end of this record I played it again. And again, and again. This lush simplicity utterly addictive.
Every once in a while an EP by a new artist will knock it out of the park; this is one such album."
Noelle Ellis, Gigging NI
“Sam brings with him a rich soul/blues voice, soaked in what seems a lifetime of experience which belies his 20 years. His voice lures you in and connects”
Mark Reid, AER Music
"It would be over simplistic to make comparisons with the music of Jeff Buckley, Bon Ivor and John Martyn, the most obvious connection being that similar to these artist Wickens possess quite a unique style.
The focus throughout the album is on his wonderful vocal, always to the fore, soaring, melodic, atmospheric and emotional. Wickens has wisely allowed his vocal to dominate to the extent that the listener is immediately drawn to the lyrics. That’s not to understate the quality of the song writing, which appears to carry personal messages and a maturity beyond his years.
The title track Send Me is dreamy, hypnotic with a vocal delivery that brings to mind Jack Lukeman at his best.
Wickens has without doubt the talent to make a name for himself"
Declan Culliton, Lonesome Highway
"At only 20 years old Sam's lyrics are far more mature than his age..
His voice carries strong emotions within it drawing on influences like Paolo Nutini, which are especially prevalent on the track 'Trees'. Other stand outs on the EP are title track 'Send Me', which has the tenderness one would expect form folk music with a strong draw from blues music similar to the likes of Hozier, and a live version of 'Oh Mother' which showcases exactly what Sam is all about, strong lyrics with a blues vibe and a vocal that has hints of Paolo Nutini and Hozier while still staying unique in itself.
'Send Me' is a debut that proves that there is a lot more to come from this young artist and that Sam Wickens is a name to remember for the not so distant future"