Release Date – 28th May 2021
Words: Tom Farmer
Whilst COVID and lockdown has had countless negative impacts, every now and then you discover a silver lining of the last 16 months. For Sam Lambeth, and fans of brooding solo guitar music, a positive amongst the negatives is that the pandemic persuaded the experienced musician to pick up his guitar again and produce “Love and Exile”, a record brimming with passion and raw musicianship.
Having established himself well over the last ten years as a spell-binding songwriter and powerful frontman, “Love and Exile” is Lambeth’s most significant solo release to date. However, a challenge of writing and recording a seven track release in the midst of a pandemic has its own hurdles which had to be jumped. Through taking on freelance writing jobs, having a brief stint as a labourer on a site and even selling all his musical instruments, Lambeth scrapped together enough cash to pay for studio time- whilst also saving up for a house. Whilst it would be a cliché to say that “you can’t put a price on good music”, Lambeth’s months of austerity living have finally paid off.
Musically, the album itself has an intensely visceral vibe, with most of the album being cast on a canvas of pure acoustic sound. Evocative of some of Oasis’ more acoustic-sounding tracks, the album ebbs and flows to soft mandolin melodies. Yet, that does not mean that the record is without its rock ‘n’ roll moments, a poignant nod to Lambeth’s versatile musical past. It is one of those debut records which has been recorded and mixed leaving no stone unturned, as opposed to some debut recorded roughly in a bedroom somewhere. No, “Love and Exile” is mixed finely and precisely, even sampling the barking of Lambeth’s dog into the end of the opening track, one of the many subtle but powerful creative touches which adds power to the record.
Whilst COVID was the catalyst for perfecting the record, this is not explicitly a “lockdown album”. With many of the tunes written long before the Downing Street press conferences begun and long before any of us knew what the “R number” of a virus was, the last 16 months has given Lambeth a chance to master his existing tracks. Despite this, the album’s message and morals are as resonant today as they would ever be. In the album’s opener, the Midlands’ singer states “we deal in yesterdays”, a concept which feels like an every-day process during the last year or so. The title itself, “Love and Exile”, sounds like a mournful description of the feelings of many in recent times. In actual fact, Lambeth read a journalist describe an album as “a description of love and exile” over ten years ago and has simply hung onto the name. Whilst I wouldn’t say that Lambeth has written an accidental “lockdown album”, the lyrics are as relatable now as they would ever be.
From Springsteen to Dylan to a stripped back Liam Gallagher, Lambeth’s vocal performance is strong and versatile, but remains impassioned and emotionally open. If you want to listen to seven tracks about highs and lows, all to the backdrop of brooding and emotive guitar with a sprinkling of piano, Sam Lambeth’s “Love and Exile” is the record for you.