by Chris Hatch
‘This collection of songs is the most personal I’ve put my name on, but this project feels like my least independent,’ so says Sam Weber of his latest record. And – in all fairness – you would be hard pressed to find a more succinct and accurate summary of his brilliant new Americana-tinged release.
Across the ten songs on Everything Comes True, Weber lets his mind wander, and invites us in as he focuses on life and all its aspects. Written on the road – in between bouts of working as a guitar tech, and his life as a session musician – the thoughts and ideas Weber explores seem to come and go as quickly as towns passing by on the highway. Yet, somehow, the record avoids feeling disparate or disjointed, and instead it’s themes casually hang together like old friends.
For all of Weber’s lyrical ruminations, it’s the sublimely understated songwriting, and impeccable musicianship that initially grabs your attention. The list of people who have have been involved in helping make this album reads like a session-musician-supergroup (if such a thing were ever to exist). Musicians that have played with the likes of Joan Baez, Jenny Lewis, Beck, Vampire Weekend, Prince (I really could go on and on) have all contributed to bringing Weber’s songs to life, and there’s a real sense that the album is brimming with the DNA of decades-worth of classic songwriters.
Ranging from soulful, piano balladry to bluesy, rootsy rock, Weber sounds at home in a variety of genres. The title track and Obligated are a pair of songs that start out as delicate piano-led numbers before beautifully melting into sumptuous, full-band affairs that flirt with the fringes of gospel. Avenir and Mendocino find Weber at his folkiest, and maybe at his most dreamlike – the former in particular having the timeless feel of those great 60s/70s torch songs, while Queen On The Money, Blackout, and No see him cut loose and embrace a grittier, bluesier sound that stays on just the right side of sleazy.
If a criticism could be levelled at Weber, it would be that the album rarely pushes the envelope – the Canadian experiments sparingly, and there are few surprises or unexpected turns along the way. But when an album is so well written and pristinely played, it really is tough to dwell on any negative points – in fact, such is the brightness, clarity, and assuredness of his songwriting, it’s hard not to be entirely on his side. Having said that, when Weber does take a more playful, experimental stab at things he pretty much nails it – the bustling, It’s All Happening, hurries along restlessly, carried along by a bubbling, pulsing guitar line and a winding, twisting bassline, it neatly encapsulates the feeling that both the song and Weber’s thoughts are trying to outrun each other.
Everything Comes True has the timeless feel of an album that has been around for years. There are elements of the understated songwriting of James Taylor, flashes of Carole King’s driving, piano stomps, and swathes of the grandiose, Americana that Conor Oberst has been releasing for the past decade. For some it may feel a little too pedestrian, but for most it will feel like the embrace of an old friend.
Secret Meeting score: 81