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Monday, December 5, 2011

Mapleblues Magazine review

Mapleblues Magazine: December 2011
John’s Blues Picks by John Valentyn
Sam Turton: At Home (Self)

A roots music road warrior now residing in Guelph, Sam Turton has a strong sense of local living and community-shared music. To that end, he set up his entire home as a recording studio and invited some friends to join in for a “real music” session. In the notes he emphasizes the importance of being at home and among friends there, and to his great credit, he has pulled it off. Recording studios have control rooms where you have, well, control. At home, you don’t have that. Turton has included snippets of dialogue & music between the songs proper and the overall effect is exactly what he was after. We can all give thanks to Nik Tjelios, an expert at location recordings.

Turton describes his music as a ‘roots-blues-gospel gumbo packed with slide guitar and soul-fired harmonies’ and that’s what’s here. All of this effort would not have mattered much if the songs didn’t stand up as well as they do. “Next Time” is billed as a slide blues/gospel barnburner about life in a troubled family—as advertised, a keeper. Ain’t Gonna” is even bluesier, a call to stand up and speak out. “Oh Susanna” gets a very different arrangement and Turton comes across a little like Lyle Lovett, and that’s a compliment. “I’m On My Way’ is a fine performance of a traditional call-and-response gospel tune, a performance very much like one Ken Whiteley would have given. The vocal responses here and elsewhere are by his partner Jane Lewis, Tannis Slimmon, and Katherine Wheatley, and they are indeed soul-fired. Larry Kurtz adds harmonica and the core band consists of Jesse Turton on bass and Adam Bowman on drums. He’s leaving his home quite a bit there days to showcase the album and you can check out a concert near you at You may not be at his home but you will get a good show with some excellent songs.

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