Serious Sam Barrett – Where The White Roses Go

Album Review | Ya Dig Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Where the White Roses Go from the second it bursts from the speakers is an intense mixture of tender and tough. A solid insistent banjo drives the title track conjuring up straight away Bert Jansch and the Jack Orion album. Serious Sam Barrett has a fine, earnest vocal, delivering his songs with passion and integrity. Both the opening title track and “Last Of The Yorkshire Outlaws”, a classic folk blues song, crackle with that dustbowl psych folk power of early Dylan. A fact that is I’m sure not lost on SSB as Reece Leung’s stunning photo of him just needs a blissed out Ewan MacColl in to be that 1962 UK live shot of Bob Dylan. Not for a second to suggest that SSB is a copyist or revivalist, rather that he is aware of his acoustic heritage and swimming in the same waters.

He is lyrically current and biting too, put an electric band behind Yorkshire Outlaws and you are firmly in Arctic Monkeys territory. “I Don’t Need To Wait For Heaven” features fine almost hypnotic playing, strong vocals and a lyric very much in the bluegrass tradition. “Holmfirth Anthem” is a solo voice version of the West Yorkshire song, learned from. Sam is in fine voice and the spirit of the clubs flows through the track. “Bonaparte’s Love Song” and “Robin Hood and The 15 Foresters” both feature SSB’s rythmic and hypnotic banjo and rich strong vocals. “Everybody Needs A Helping Hand” and “Tennessee Line” are strong songs, if Bruce Springsteen had been born in the raised in The Dale’s, he would have sounded like this, kind of drystone Nebraska outtakes. Blending a raw Yorkshire Folk with a lively spit n sawdust acoustic Appalachian music. “Darling Where Are You” is a tender closer, celebrating the life of the rover in another performance with the burr and spirit of acoustic music from both sides of the Atlantic. Consistently through this album Serious Sam Barrett produces music with integrity and spark, managing to blend from the dustbowl and the Dales to make something compelling and powerful.