Sam Hare has been a mainstay in the British Blues community for a while. In the last few years it’s been common to find him in bars that, whilst nice, were frankly below the status he deserved, playing with Ian Seigal, Matt Schofield or the late Hucklebuck. He’s also graced the pages of music magazines as a freelance photographer, runs the weekly blues jam at London’s ‘Aint Nothing but the Blues’ Bar and appeared in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Now his first solo album has graced us and it’s doing little to disappoint.
The feel of Down to the Sea is certainly more Country than some of Hare’s previous work. This doesn’t mean he’s abandoned the electric guitar noodling he’s great at, tight-rope walking the line between indulgence and failing to satisfy, but does mean a more laid back final product than some of his fans might be expecting. There’s more than a touch of Terry Bush’s Maybe Tomorrow about the thoughtfully melancholy Her Time of Day.
This lack of virtuosity marks Hare out as part of a new breed of Blues guitarist, one happy to stray from the spotlight and let other musicians lead a track. That’s all providing the end product sounds great of course. There’s no denying that it does on the album’s instrumental cover of Mr Bojangles or ‘One More Chance’ which is lead by a mean Honky Tonk piano courtesy of Joe Glossop.
By embracing a countrified sound, Hare hasn’t turned his back on good old fashioned Blues. It’s still there in bundles on tracks like The Bridge (send word from me). What it does mean is the sort of tired old clichés that usually begin “woke up this mornin’...” have been replaced with competently-written songs, wistful and teeming with traveller’s regret.