Neuro-divergent (autistic) Edinburgh songwriter, musician, and composer Samuel Nicholson releases his new album `Birthday Suit` this month. He has released two previous solo album his debut, `If You Be My` (2015), and follow-up `Missing Persons Report` (2020). His influences come from listening to Motown records in the car with his mother, and hard rock records handed down by his father, blended with his own forays into jazz, folk and experimental music of decades past.
The album begins with `Birthday Suit` which has some delightful haunting guitar riffs and is possibly an open declaration of love, where you almost feel the need to support the narrator due to the vulnerability shared. There`s a sense of separation with vocals splayed over a strummed rhythmic guitar chord riff on `New Blood For Your Christening`.
To me `Black Dog Funeral` had a harder edge with a more forceful feel to the chords shared and a sense of frustration and distress to the lyrics. A much more straightforward rolling indie rock submission follows on `Gummi` allowing a fairly reflective narration to shimmer atop which at times is spoken as well as sung.
A regular drum beat and tinkling piano / organ keys lead us into `God Loves A Trier` which has a simple philosophical musing conveyed over a soulful backing. A stretched guitar solo joins midway and adds a further sense of poignancy. I loved `West Coast Feeling` where the vocal delivery has a sense of heartache which is heightened with the stripped back setting of strummed guitar and piano.
`Heavy Metal T-Shirt` is a thumping indie rock out with a seeming admission of love strewn over and throughout its journey. There`s a pretty introspective reflection on `Birthday Presents Forever` which has some wonderful shimmering guitar splayed throughout as it seems to gather pace and volume as it evolves.
The album closes out on `Random Action Hero` which is a heartfelt and gospel like piece with vocals that are overwhelmingly earnest and pleading at times throughout. A pretty intense composition to conclude on.
Samuel Nicholson has said about this release “The record is a dysfunctional self-portrait of my life at a time when I was falling deeply in love,”, “Having previously gathered that I am not easy to love, I began to write these songs as a way of warning this person about my nature, and a way of being realistic about my ability to love and support another human being at that time.”
It goes some way to explaining its concept. I`m never the smartest at deciphering lyrics but I found the ones here pretty eclectic but am sure they are / were pretty cathartic for the artist.
The implication of the axiom `Birthday Suit` is a state of total nakedness and at times there is a kind of rawness and openness shared here within. This album is what I’d call a grower and i`m sure I’ll uncover more layers each time I return.
Rating 8 / 10