ALBUMS: Sam Doores Determines His Destiny

With his self-titled debut, the Deslondes frontman makes a solo shuffle and still manages to remain true to his roots

Sam Doores Sam Doores, New West 2020

Artist: Sam Doores

Album: Sam Doores

Label: New West Records

★★★★ (4/5 stars)


It’s not always easy to parlay an exceptional resume into a solo career that attains the same standing.

So when Sam Doores opted to transition out of the two bands with which he had been associated, The Deslondes and Hurray for the Riff Raff, and then go it alone, he found himself reverting to a vintage sound that reflects his New Orleans origins on his eponymous solo debut. A sumptuous 13-song set, it finds him reflecting on past triumphs and previous troubles with an infectious enthusiasm and a fresh personal perspective.

“Writing those songs was my way of moving past it all and embracing the changes happening in my life,” Doores noted in the press material accompanying the album. “That relationship ended, and then later The Deslondes decided to go on sabbatical. Those big endings were painful, but I knew that no matter how hard it was, the experience would be a positive one in the end.”

It seems that part of the way to reassurance was to embrace songs that borrow liberally from several signature styles — classic rock and roll, ragtime jazz and traditional R&B, all married into a musical gumbo that boasts a certain verve and variety. “Wish You Well” recalls Randy Newman in its savvy and sway. “Windmills” has a southern specific vibe that makes it easy to imagine what it was once like drinking sweet tea and basking in the breeze beneath the magnolias. Likewise, the songs “Let It Roll” and “Chicago To Illinois” sound like the classic conceits of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, when making out at the malt shop was the naughtiest indulgence imaginable.

 

VIDEO: Sam Doores “Other Side Of Town”

“In the beginning, I thought this project was just going to be a fun way to record some songs that didn’t have a home, but in the end, it became a really important creative outlet for me during a turbulent time in my life,” Doores said in his statement.

In a way then, Sam Doores provides its namesake with some degree of comfort and consolation, as well as perhaps, salvation and satisfaction. Doores shows clear confidence in the smooth sashay of “Push On,” and when he sings “I ain’t got possession, fortune or fame/There ain’t much I can claim,” on the ragtime rave-up “Must Be Somethin’,” he also inhabits a cool groove.

The fact that he feels so at ease while pushing the parameters indicates that he was too talented to be pigeonholed into any singular style. Now that he’s out on his own, Doores can determine his destiny.

 

 

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman is a writer and columnist based in beautiful Maryville Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, his work has appeared in dozens of leading music publications. He is also the author of Americana Music: Voice, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press early next year.

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