Sam Burton’s second album ‘Dear Departed’ arose from a time of rebirth. In the last few years, the LA-based singer basically started over. He temporarily abandoned the life he’d built in LA to live in Utah where he grew up, moving again to hole up in a cabin on a rural northern California farm. Sam describes the album as being wracked with pain and loss, and he spends much of the time saying goodbye to a version of himself. The album was produced by Jonathan Wilson and evokes, at times, the ambience of the Laurel Canyon sound.

Opening track `Pale Blue Night` has a tapped drum rim rhythm leading us through this gently shared reflective musing on a relationship that seems to have run its course. The orchestrated strings adds a further sense of longing to this number. There`s a similar sentiment to `I Don’t Blame You` which again has strings and some quite haunting harmonies with a thoughtful vocal over acoustic guitar chords.   

`Long Way Around` is a deeper track that`s fairly introspective and searching and has that feel of a number written by Jimmy Webb. There`s almost a hint towards the late Roy Orbison on `Coming Down On Me` which is quite mesmeric and spellbinding.

I felt that Sam was channelling his inner James Taylor on `Empty Handed` which was a touch more upbeat and rolls along. Tinkling piano keys, a string arrangement and a tapped drum rim lead us through `Maria` a song of possibly unrequited love.

 A further tale of lost or unreciprocated love comes with `I Go To Sleep` which does have that end of the day ruminating feel about it. There`s a deeply contemplative and mediative almost soul-searching quality about the gently shared `Looking Back Again`.

To me `My Love` seemed to reflect a coming to terms or peaceful acceptance of where the narrator is in life and love these days. The album closes out with `A Place To Stay` which has a slight country / Americana sensibility and may well be a metaphor for what the narrator is seeking.

‘Dear Departed’ is an utterly intensive and absorbing listen, it had an almost spiritual vibe and i`m sure was pretty cathartic, healing and quite possibly liberating for the artist. It obviously meant so much and is wonderfully produced with love and attention but i`m not sure if it fully translates.

I`m certain it`ll be an album that will slowly grow on me and I’ll return to often to discover something fresh each time.  


Rating 8 / 10

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