Faith in The Blues
Twenty-six-year-old Sam Barlow is a West Texas based guitarist, harmonica player and vocalist, who started by sitting in with Austin legend Jimmie Vaughan and Blues Hall of Famer Elvin Bishop. In 2010 Barlow competed in the El Paso Guitar Center’s “King Of The Blues” competition winning first place. Barlow has played blues, rock, soul, Tejano, and country; and opened for an assortment of artists including John Anderson, Robert Earl Keen and Johnny Rawls.
Richard Cagle, President of Montrose Records, knows something about blues talent as he introduced the world to Annika Chambers back in January of 2014. The True Blue Band features Barlow, guitars, harmonica and vocals; as he is accompanied by Israel “Izzy” Aguirre, keyboards; the late Anthony Movsesian, bass and washboard; and Joseph Seltzer, drums and percussion. Additional musicians include bassist Dave Hamilton, pianist Erwin Solbach, backing singer Maribel Rubio, and special guest vocalist Chambers. The album is produced and recorded by Cagle at his Montrose Records Studio in Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Barlow has authored ten songs and also includes two well selected covers. He opens with “Sittin’ in the Jailhouse” written by Robert Ross and first recorded by Johnny Winter in 1980; Barlow plays some commanding slide as he sings “I see through the bars, hangman, the guards, even the preacher comin’ my way”. The other cover is Willie Dixon’s “My Babe” performed as a duet with Chambers while Barlow takes a turn on harp; Aguirre plays organ.
The well written originals include the autobiographical title track “Faith in The Blues” as we take note that Barlow is a vocalist with great clarity and intonation. “Breaker Box Blues” features Barlow’s extended guitar intro. “But, We Know”, co-written with Kendra Elliot, features a beat similar to “Not Fade Away”. The heartfelt lyrics on “Can’t Take Another You” convey an emotional break up. The funky “Get Off Me” features Movsesian’s bass and some more harmonica from Barlow. “Soul On a Rail” is just a marvelous performance as Barlow sings “when I get off this train, I’m gonna sing away all my pain”.
“My Little Lady” is a great showcase for this fabulous band featuring some great drumming from Seltzer. “Street Blues” is an instrumental and another band showcase. “Gonna Make Her My Baby” is another great piece of songwriting featuring Barlow on slide. The stomping closer “Valentine Special” features more slide from Barlow as he plays a resonator guitar “first time I saw you I couldn’t take my hands off of you”.
This album from Sam Barlow should establish him as a formidable new talent. This is a highly recommended recording.