Here and Somewhere Else
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 1999, Volume 6, #5
Written by John Metzger
If you have ever wondered what a collaboration between Sting and the Counting Crows might sound like, then check out Here and Somewhere Else, the latest disc from The Samples. Granted, this description is an oversimplification of the group's sound, but it also is the basis upon which most of this release was constructed.
For some inexplicable reason, The Samples have been associated with the jam band genre. Sure, it had participated in Blues Traveler's H.O.R.D.E. tour and was included in Dean Budnick's recent jam-band encyclopedia, but the group's sound is much more akin to pure pop.
The last few years have been rough for The Samples as the ensemble lost two members and parted ways with major label MCA Records. Its deal with MCA fell apart after the label went through a brutal restructuring process, and the only album that the band had recorded for MCA was released with virtually no support. Refusing to let the happenings in the music industry get them down, the group's members regrouped around a new line-up and returned to its original label — the Boulder, Colorado-based What Are Records?. In late 1997, it released a live disc, and last year, it began touring in support of its ninth album Here and Somewhere Else, the ensemble's most mature effort to date.
It's truly a testament to The Samples' dedication and talent that it was able to rebound with such a stellar outing. Here and Somewhere Else is packed with easily accessible melodies, tightly-woven harmonies, and radio-friendly hits. It's also clear that the group paid extremely close attention to detail in creating the album: Sean Kelly' vocals soar effortlessly above the group's lush, orchestrated, and often delicate arrangements, and there's a certain Beatle-esque quality to a number of the songs. Not only did The Samples make use of some similar chord changes, but its also combined sounds to create melodic, yet swirling explorations of its musical themes. There are numerous subtle nuances and textures incorporated by the group into its songs on Here and Somewhere Else — the backing vocals on the Paul McCartney-like introduction to Hypocrite (Another World), for example — and these are not always apparent to the casual listener.
Little People is one of the simpler songs on Here and Somewhere Else, but it's also one the many highlights. The song is as much about childhood as it is about aging. The Samples combines cello with piano and acoustic guitar to give the tune the ambience of a beautiful lullaby. At the same time, the music also captures the sadness of time that has already passed by. In addition, The Samples has turned Here and Somewhere Else into an extremely well-constructed multi-media affair. The band not only included interviews with each of the band members and short discussions about every song on the disc, but it also incorporated several studio demos, all of the song lyrics and chords, a full length music video, and other assorted weirdness into the afbair. It's this sort of attention to detail and sense of commitment that makes Here and Somewhere Else a rewarding and enjoyable album.
Here and Somewhere Else is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box