Sam Green is thinking of eternity. The breadth of his songwriting over eight years and eleven releases is rife with concerns extending past the tip of his nose. One of the sometimes regrettable aspects of the singer/songwriter genre is the self-concern evidenced by its practitioners. In a world with so much to write about, it may baffle you, upon further consideration, that many solo performers and bands content themselves with figuratively taking their own temperature. Sam Green does some. His songwriting vision, however, encompasses much more than autobiography. It engages with the external world under several guises rather than contenting itself with navel-gazing. It celebrates the natural world while staring down mortality with an unwavering gaze.
His popular Spotify tracks provide a telling glimpse of his best work. Four tracks from his albums early in the last decade are standout tracks. “Your Heart Is a Diamond” and “Have the Seasons Changed?” from 2013’s Players All Are We are quite different, on the surface, but united by a common artistic sensibility. The former is an acapella performance with only light production adornment, gossamer-thin, enhancing Green’s vocals. “Your Heart Is a Diamond”, however, has a much more customary slant. He draws from established guitar traditions for this song without ever leaning too heavily on cliché. The song has a very deliberate pace and the instances of six-string flair built into the tune provide it with needed color.
“For the Ocean” from another 2013 album entitled I Think It’s About Time is a bit different from his customary work in this vein. Green seems to prefer languid tempos for his folk-styled numbers but this track turns up the pace a few notches without ever getting carried away with itself. The presence of woodwinds during this album brings some extra spice to the musical attack but its opener, “Love is Everywhere”, is a standout. The instruments parry with each other in a dance that’s, by turns, energetic and sensitive.
The title track from 2018’s Baked Beans (432 Hertz) has a bluesy tilt without ever risking pastiche. It is one of the many qualities separating his music from similar artists – Green never treats these long-standing musical styles with too much veneration and looks at them as vital. There’s a beautifully deceptive simplicity to this performance as well. It is a grim, unhappy song but communicates that in an understated fashion that demands you pay attention.
His track “Broken Hill” is an emphatic call to himself that he never abandons the inner voice that’s guided him this far. It doesn’t say so in such implicit terms, but even a distracted listen to the song’s words reveals its message. It’s another quiet and understated performance, free from self-indulgence, and open-hearted throughout. We need more music like this in the world. It isn’t music obsessing over the latest fashion, the new thing, or pretending to be something it isn’t. Sam Green and the Time Machine are writing, recording, and releasing music touching on something timeless and wants us to come along for the ride.