The first line on “Gold” and consequently, the first line on the album, says:  “I’ve got scars, I’ve got lines”.

As signposts go………

Back in 2018, Oklahoma’s Carter Sampson released an album called “Lucky”. Just before it was released, I was lucky (ahem!) enough to see her play a concert in a folk club not far from where I live. Looking at my review for the night in prep for this, I’d written: “There is a simple air of contentment about everything she does”. There must be plenty that has changed since, because “Gold” is anything but. It’s unmistakably Carter Sampson, though, as it’s a brilliant record.

The title track, she reckons, was written after a “good cry” to her mother, and there’s a feeling that she’s wrestling emotions all the way through this. On one hand, she loves her life (“I don’t have a boss and don’t take no shit,” she offers in “Home”, before adding: “one of these days I’ll write a hit…..” That’s the juxtaposition. “got lost having too much fun”, she sings, and yet the wonderful wail of the lap steel says otherwise, “90 minutes in the hot spotlight” as she puts it ? Is it worth it? What it is worth pointing out, however, is how good the musicianship is, not just here, but throughout.

Love features heavily, family, music and deeper bonds, but “Drunk Text” is the only conventional “love song” even here you can tell how much she loves the subject “I even let you play my guitar” as if there’s no greater display of affection.

There’s some incredible song writing here, but nowhere is it better than “Black Blizzard” with its wonderful lead guitar and heart-breaking tale of the storm is positively Steinbeckian in the way it lays it bare and if stoicism is ingrained throughout every pore of this, “Yippee Yi Yo” an accordion drenched homage to the staying power of women will resonate.

Ultimately, there’s something burning in these songs and their characters. Something only music can give. “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do” and “my bags are always packed” she sings, on “Can’t Stop Me” and you’d best not even try, because hard work will prevail, as “Fingers To The Bone” a blue collar, working class tale underlines.

“Today Is Mine” is a change of pace. You can hear the relaxation. Beautiful cloudless sky, over the gorgeous acoustic breeze. It counterbalances wonderfully with the darkness of “Pray And Scream”, which puts you square in the centre of the hurricane.

“There’s Always Next Year” stoic, real poetry, hard core troubadour? Is she the latest in that line? For sure, she’s cut from the cloth of Woody Guthrie in the observations she makes, the poetry, turn of phrase, but also in her belief that people will prevail, together.

And that opening song? The chorus is all you need to know. “Don’t you worry mama, I’ll be fine, my tears come as easy as I leave them behind”. Thats the whole of life, and it’s all on display here, on Carter Sampson’s latest slice of solid “Gold”

Rating 9/10

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