REVIEW: Sam Coe & The Long Shadows – ‘Full Moon’

The last year or so has certainly been fruitful for East Anglia-based group Sam Coe & The Long Shadows. With an appearance at C2C, a support slot with The Shires and a headline UK tour in the bag, the country/Americana five-piece have released their first full-length album following their introductory EP ‘Santa Fe’, which we reviewed last year.

The debut album showcases a real mixture of sounds and influences, whilst still maintaining a categorically rootsy edge to their music. Traditional instrumentation is obviously a fundamental aspect to the band’s output; it’s packed full of beautiful acoustic guitars and pedal steel which gives the project such a throwback, honky-tonk vibe. They’re doing something very different to most of the UK scene and, whilst it’s an acquired taste, it will be greatly appreciated by those with an affinity for the underground world of Country and Americana.

I really like the style of production too. It sounds like there’s been an emphasis on keeping a live sound, which is understandable from a group who clearly take great pride in their performances. There’s a freedom to the production which suits Sam’s vocal in particular – the rawness of her delivery is the attraction, and that’s been allowed to take centre stage.

The instrumentation is stunning and intricately crafted too; ‘Whiskey Dreaming’ in particular is a beauty of a track and is truly Sam Coe & The Long Shadows at their very best. Right from the off, you’ll become entranced by the pure country acoustic guitars and subtle keys in the background. It’s everything a country song should be – a goose bump-provoking melody, full of heart and soul, complete with some very southern lyrics!

These guys can’t be accused of being one-dimensional at all, and they expose their diversity with the opening track ‘Full Moon’, with a guitar riff that becomes infectiously catchy after a few listens. It’s a rather heavy track by their standards and kicks off the album with a statement of intent. The aforementioned ‘live’ vibe is noticeable here; it’s a group of very talented musicians jamming out and the track certainly has a lasting effect on the listener.

Elsewhere, they can completely switch things to a light-hearted, up-beat country melody with the likes of ‘A Thousand Conversations’ and ‘Motel Cherokee’, before bringing you back down to earth with the slower ballads such as the pedal steel-packed ‘End In Tears’ and the atmospheric closing track ‘Fire’. I also love ‘Tennessee Blue’ – “It don’t matter what the weather does today, your heart has gone and led me astray”. There’s real power and emotion here, combined with a very soulful country style that jumped out to me as a stand-out moment from the first run-through.

There’s great variety from start to finish, and each track is memorable in its own unique style. You certainly wouldn’t believe that it’s been recorded by a group from East Anglia! Be sure to head over to their Facebook page to check out their huge list of live dates over the summer – this is an album that’s begging to be heard live, so be sure to check them out!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan