Aspiring UK-based country artists, struggling with the lack of home exposure and opportunities, must look enviously at their US counterparts who operate in an environment where country is mainstream. But it’s not that simple in the US either.
It might be worthwhile checking out the tales of Texas-based, Florida-born Sam Riggs. Riggs chose to test his talents by moving to Austin, Texas rather than Nashville and released his debut album ‘Outrun The Sun’ in October 2013. He was operating as the front man of ‘Sam Riggs and the Night People’ at that time and the album was well received locally, but didn’t provide him with the national exposure that it deserved.
It’s interesting to hear that someone who can regularly sell out concerts on the Texas music circuit and develop a healthy local fan base has to go into debt to make a second album. He had to raise $30,000 to make sure the album saw the light of day and a Kickstarter campaign was launched to help pay off the debts and help towards promotion.
The money appears to have been well spent.
Riggs has returned to producer Erik Herbst (Eli Young Band) who was also on hand for the debut album. He has also retained the services of the musicians who make up the ‘Night People’ who continue to tour with him.
The pre-release buzz on this album has been very favourable. It hit the top 3 on the iTunes country albums chart on release.
The opening track and the likely new single is ‘The Lucky Ones’. A lyric video has recently been released and we have included it with this review. This is the likely breakthrough track for Riggs. It compares favourably with anything coming out of Nashville and it certainly has top 40 potential.
His musical heritage includes a stint with the ‘drum line’. That’s marching band drum lines for the benefit of us here in the UK. ‘Lucky Ones’ actually features a cameo from the University of North Texas Drum Line.
We have 11 very strong tracks.
Our personal favourites are ‘The Heartbreak Girl’ with its retro, infectious energy and ‘Second Hand Smoke’ which is Riggs’ personal favourite and is offered twice, once acoustically. The stripped down version showcases perfectly Riggs’ emotive vocal delivery.
This album is released on his own label Deep Creek Records and hopefully, with the buzz created by the opening single ‘Lucky Ones’, it will compete with the major label releases from Nashville.
Breathless is entirely co-written with other artists. This adds to the diversity and variety, and one track ‘Wake The Dead’ even contains a rap break which appears amongst fiddles, banjos and a very fast railroad tempo.
He has recently admitted that the prevalent theme throughout the lyrics on this album is addiction. Either an addiction to substances, a situation, or a person.
The stage certainly awaits Sam Riggs. This is a very fine collection of songs which way well provide mainstream country success.