Since being named Best Newcomer at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Sam Carter has been stirring audiences from Camden to Canada, via an attention grabbing appearance on Later… with Jools Holland and a dreams-really-do-come-true performance in a specially assembled band to back Richard Thompson at Shrewsbury Folk Festival.
Described as ‘the finest English-style finger-picking guitarist of his generation’ by Bellowhead’s Jon Boden, Sam has toured the world, equally happy to perform intimate solo shows on acoustic guitar, on electric with a full band, or to collaborate with other artists. Recent collaborations have included a trip to Pakistan to work with revered South Asian classical musicians Sajid Hussain and Haroon Samuel; an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show playing songs co-written with Zimbabwean musician and former refugee Lucky Moyo; and closer to home as part of the all-star tribute tour The Lady: A Homage To Sandy Denny. In 2014 Sam teamed with Jim Moray to form False Lights, a band with the stated aim of updating the template of folk rock and making a joyful racket. Their 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated album Salvor, released the following year, was praised from all corners – proving that people really were ready for traditional English songs played in a style that owed as much to Radiohead as it did to Fairport Convention.
Sam’s third solo album How The City Sings captures this fervently admired singer, songwriter and guitarist at his most passionate and moving. Recorded live to tape in the studio, the album was produced by Dom Monks (who worked with Ethan Johns on records by Laura Marling, Paolo Nutini and The Staves) and keyboardist Neil Cowley (Neil Cowley Trio, best known for his contributions to Adele’s 19 and 21 albums). In addition to Neil, whose emotive piano lines were often improvised, the band includes fiddler Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead, Leveret and BBC Folk Musician of the Year) drummer Evan Jenkins (Neil Cowley Trio) and Sam’s longstanding bassist Matt Ridley.
How The City Sings features twelve songs that are at times affectingly intimate and at others brimming with righteous rage. As the album formed, Sam began to notice these songs were shot through with images and aspects of London. After ten years living in the capital it had become not only the backdrop but a central player in the parts of his life these lyrics detailed.
Unconsciously How The City Sings became a way of processing where he was, in every sense. “What’s important to me about the record is that my experiences and what I sing about have become inseparable. I’m writing about my own life but also trying to give voice to the lives of others.” How the City Sings is the most personal album of Sam Carter’s career, and when songs are this heartfelt and true they connect with us all.
'Like one of his heroes Richard Thompson, Carter has the ability to enthral with just one climactic chord when he moves effortlessly into rock guitar mode and the jagged contrast with his softer side makes it all the more effective . . . he has such an abundance of natural talent, and you will him on all the way.’