In the ten years since winning Best Newcomer at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Sam Carter has earned a reputation for vivid, narrative-driven songwriting and captivating live performances. Renowned as “the finest English-style fingerpicking guitarist of his generation” (Jon Boden), Sam made a spell-binding appearance on Later… with Jools Holland in 2012 and has toured the world, sharing stages with some of the finest guitarists and songwriters, including Nic Jones, Martin Simpson, Richard Thompson, and Chris Wood.
Following the release of his last album How The City Sings , Sam embarked on an extensive album release tour with his most ambitious live line-up to date, including shows with Folk Award-winning fiddler Sam Sweeney and pianist Neil Cowley (Adele, Neil Cowley Trio). Alongside a busy solo touring schedule, he continued to break new ground with his work in Folk Award-nominated electro-folk band False Lights, who released their second album Harmonograph to wide acclaim in early 2018. In demand as a session player, Sam was enlisted for a string of festival dates with Eliza Carthy’s Wayward band and for a national tour with Bella Hardy. In late 2019, Sam joined the ensemble for the touring folk theatre show ‘Rising Up: Peterloo 2019’, arranging and performing songs written by the Young’uns’ Sean Cooney alongside Lucy Farrell (Furrow Collective) and Jim Molyneux (Four Square, Kitty MacFarlane).
Sam’s fourth album Home Waters showcases his heartfelt songwriting with sensitive, sophisticated production. Recorded in a converted church in rural Northumberland by producer and multi-instrumentalist Ian Stephenson (Kan, Baltic Crossing, Andy May Trio), Sam’s live acoustic guitar and vocals sit at the heart of the album. Many of his performances were left unadorned, while the rich emotional landscapes on other tracks were illustrated by Stephenson’s cinematic string arrangements, performed by the specially-assembled The Home Waters String Quartet (Mark Carroll, Edward Cross, Jean-Pierre Garde, Hannah Tattersfield) with double bass players Matt Ridley and Ian ‘Dodge’ Paterson.
Home Waters was written in the wake of Sam’s relocation from the bustle of London, the setting that brought such bittersweet intensity to How The City Sings . As Sam settled in his new home city of Sheffield, he noticed that the songs he began to write were attempts to process both his own personal upheaval and the contemporary atmosphere of national and global uncertainty. Images of overwhelming floods, rising tides, and conflict-stricken seas sat alongside themes of love and loss, alluding to the search for a sense of belonging and stability in unfamiliar territory.
With its driving, percussive guitar work and blacksmithing imagery, fiery opening track ‘The Forge’ is a joyful ode to the process of creativity itself. “I’ve long thought of songwriting as analogous to blacksmithing” explains Sam. “You’re hammering away in the dark in the hope you’ll create something that shines and catches the light.” The influence of Sam’s new South Yorkshire surroundings is heard on ‘Surprise View’, the song’s protagonist making annual trips to the viewpoint in the Peak District where he feels the presence of his deceased wife and life-long walking partner most strongly.
Elsewhere Sam’s flair for social commentary remains evident. ‘Fly The Flag’ laments the surge of nationalism with a harrowing seafaring narrative over an unsettling string arrangement, and ominous down-tuned electric guitar. ‘Grenfell Rd’ voices the anger and frustration felt by the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, many of whom were left “sleeping four abreast in [a] hotel bed” months after the tragedy, while ‘Hold Back The Storm’ is a rallying cry and tip of the hat to those fighting against climate change apathy and inaction.
But Home Waters ultimately yields shelter from the storm. ‘She Brings Me Home’ is perhaps Sam’s most emphatic love song to date, his warm electric slide guitar phrases interleaving with the quartet’s sumptuous chords. The album closes with ‘Ships in the Night’, where Ian Stephenson’s harmonium and Martin Douglas’ drums usher along Sam’s heartfelt implore to an estranged friend, “Let’s not leave it so long next time”.
Home Waters captures the full force of Carter’s incisive songwriting, as well as marking him out as a guitarist and singer to stand alongside the best of his generation.
01) The Forge, 3.31 02) She Brings Me Home 3.22, 03) Fly The Flag 3.24, 04) Bushes And Briars 3.19, 05) Slow Waves 4.12, 06) The Watersmeet 2.25, 07) Hold Back The Storm 3.37, 08) Surprise View 4.03, 09) Grenfell Road 2.38, 10) Ships In The Night 3.44
HOME WATERS TOUR • SPRING 2020
Sam Carter with the Home Waters String Quartet
Thursday 21st May – Kings Place, London • kingsplace.co.uk • 02075 201490
Friday 22nd May – Christ Church Downend, Bristol • downendfolkclub.co.uk • 07837 881941
Saturday 30th May – Queen’s Hall, Hexham • queenshall.co.uk • 01434 652477
Sam Carter Solo
Friday 24th April – Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire • www.nationaltrust.org.uk • 07900 230863
Friday 1st May – St Andrew’s Church, Rugby • www.standrewrugby.org.uk • 01788 565609
Saturday 2nd May – The Met, Bury • themet.org.uk • 01617 612216
Tuesday 5th May – Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham • kitchengardencafe.co.uk • 01214 434725
Friday 8th May – Conquest Theatre, Bromyard • conquest-theatre.co.uk • 01885 488575
Saturday 9th May – The Stables, Milton Keynes • stables.org • 01908 280800
Sunday 10th May – The Musician, Leicester • themusicianpub.co.uk • 01162 510080
Tuesday 12th May – Exeter Phoenix • exeterphoenix.org.uk • 01392 667080
Thursday 14th May – Chapel Arts Centre, Bath • chapelarts.org • 01225 463362
Friday 15th May – West Ends Centre, Aldershot • westendcentre.co.uk • 01252 330040
Saturday 16th May – Harwell Village Hall, Didcot • harwellvillagehall.co.uk • 07999 052720
Monday 18th May – Cambridge Junction • junction.co.uk • 01223 511511
Saturday 23rd May – Chester Folk Festival • chesterfolk.org.uk • 08712 180211
Friday 29th May – Shakespeares, Sheffield • shakespeares-sheffield.co.uk • 07837 881941
HOME WATERS – album released 1st May 2020 on Captain Records
CAP006 – distributed by Proper Music