Sam Airey – In Darkened Rooms Vinyl LP, CD
Acclaimed songwriter Sam Airey has announced he will be releasing his long awaited debut album ‘In Darkened Rooms’ on the 26th of May. Released through respected Leeds label Hide & Seek Records, co-run by Sam himself, ‘In Darkened Rooms’ is a beautiful and varied collection of songs, distilled through years of writing, performing and honing his craft.
The release of Sam Airey’s debut album is something that he has been building up to for a number of years, several singles and EPs have won him musical admirers including Midlake, Damien Jurado, Sharon Van Etten, Daughter and Anais Mitchell, most of which he has shared a stage with.
He has also seen his music championed by Huw Stephens, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq & many others, playing shows and touring with the likes of The Low Anthem, Villagers, Willy Mason, Lucy Rose and Benjamin Francis Leftwich and performing at Latitude, Leeds festival, Festival No 6, Kendal Calling, Live at Leeds and Bluedot Festival. Most recently Sam has been on the road playing multiple sold-out dates opening for Matthew & the Atlas.
Sam’s music feels inextricably bound in the concept of “hiraeth”, a Welsh-language word for which there is no direct translation but what the University of Wales likened to “homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed.”
His debut album ‘In Darkened Rooms’ is a collection of songs that have led Sam to this moment in time. “I guess usually a debut record is a snapshot from a certain time in an artist’s career..”, says Sam, “but as this was made over a longer period than most I think stylistically it maybe reflects a wider palette of influence, and as a result it sees me sonically exploring a few different routes”. The result is a record that audibly draws inspiration from a number of places, including confessional indie-folk, postrock, Americana, and traditional folk music, along with other cultural and literary influences. But ultimately, says Sam “it all still comes from the same voice – these are my songs, and I live and die by them”.
The title of the record is a lyric taken from the track “In The Morning” but also reflects the winter period in which Sam finished writing the record. Despite having lived in the musically-rich but landlocked city of Leeds for the last few years, Sam returned to the coastlines of his beloved North Wales where he spent a week alone, overlooking the mountain range of Snowdonia (a beautiful sight depicted in the cover art, shot by longtime friend and collaborator Sam Bond). Between sessions he would gather his thoughts on long walks, and was struck by just how quickly and dramatically the light and scenery could change.
Older songs are revisited on the record; the lyrics to intro track “Camera Lens” taken from a poem written by Sam as a teenager, and the inclusion of “The Blackout”, an early single which on its initial release was named BBC Radio Wales’ track of the year. The newest songs, however, hint at a future musical direction – from the bravely sparse and introspective “Lacuna” (partly inspired by watching Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), to album closer “Nantucket”, with its slow build, whispered harmonies, and its textured, crashing finale.
Though often faced with questions about the length of time taken to make and release this record, Sam stresses the importance of timing and feeling. “The time needs to feel right, which hasn’t always been the case. Eventually, though you have to let things go, to put them out into the world and see what happens”.
For Sam, this certainly feels like the time.