For a lot of people, music in the 1990’s was all about soul and disco influenced pop, with big sounds, lots of synths and lots of danceability. Happily, Sam Dickinson‘s latest album, Off Script, is heavily laced with all these sounds and is just what’s needed in the run through Autumn into Winter.
The full production sound that Sam “remembers from my childhood…in my mum’s car on the way to school” is present right from the start, with the eminently danceable beat of ‘Cry Wolf‘; from the first bar, you know that this is going to be a treat for the feet, not forgetting the soul. This feeling and sound continues throughout much of the album, starting with the title track. Accompanying the upbeat sound of ‘Off Script‘ are the positive lyrics that are all about self belief, the belief that you are ‘worth it’. The phrase, however much derided, ‘living your best life’ came to mind at first listen and this whole album is a call to do just that.
Danceability notwithstanding, Off Script has some great singalong tracks as well – ‘Never Knew‘, ‘Nothing’s True‘ and ‘Lost and Found‘ are just three. By the second chorus you’ll be belting them out. Although Sam predominantly brings out the soul, pop and disco sounds in this album, he’s not afraid to make a change now and then. ‘Foolish You‘ is a great blend of classic pop with barnstorming drums and an echo of a big band style that deserves to be a single in it’s own right.
The final track is an acoustic, guitar led ballad that feels much more personal, and indeed, is about the death of Sam’s grandmother and his inability to be open about his sexuality with her:
Did I let you down, when I hid myself from you
Called ‘No One in the Room‘, the song is a moving exploration of grief – how the things left unsaid can haunt us and maroon us forever in the land of what ifs. Sam’s otherwise powerful vocals are stripped back here, almost raw in places and this adds an extra layer to the emotion and feel of the song. It’s a lovely end to a great album.
Sam’s advice for aspiring musicians is two fold, both practical and aspirational:
You basically have to think of yourself in two ways. You have to be true to yourself but you also have to think of yourself as a business and a product. Does that song really need that guitar solo which you love playing? Do you need to sing every note you possibly can in every song? It’s all about making people want more, wanting to hear more from you. You have to work hard, damn hard. It’s long hours and a lot of rejection but believe in yourself and break down those walls, knock down those doors and you’ll do it. And most importantly, enjoy it.
Off Script is released on 9 October. Get your copy here.
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