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Introducing Sam Green and His Time Machine

Sam Green and the Time Machine has reeled off an impressive string of full length releases within the last decade. Sheer productivity, however, has not been enough as Green and his collaborators matched that full slate of creativity with an equally vital creative presence remaining as unabated as ever. The Land Down Under, Australia, has produced many figures of renown, but few Oz based musicians hew so closely to traditional folk and other forms with such idiosyncratic and individual results.

His latest two albums included on Spotify, 2018’s Ten Parts of the Journey and Baked Beans (432 Hertz), are distinguished by a number of tracks. Ten Parts’ “I Carry the Load” gives bottled up bitterness rare lyricism without diluting the song’s subject matter. The gossamer cry of pedal steel could be elevated some in the mix, but it is nonetheless effective. There’s a near-reggae tempo powering the sparse “Albert and Bob” but Green never goes all the way and, instead, relies much more on the well-tested marriage of his vocals and guitar. Shifting from acoustic to electric gives it a different texture.

Ten Parts’ “How We Live Our Lives” is another high point. The steady onward push of the playing approximates life’s demand that we keep moving or else fall prey to atrophy and decay. Green continually reckons with weighty themes in his songwriting but it is notable how he accomplishes so much with such a light touch. Baked Beans is a little more unique than the aforementioned release. Its title track will stick with you though, even if nothing else does.

It’s a great example of Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory applied to songwriting as what he leaves unstated or understated in this lyric land heavier than anything else.

His older releases on Spotify provide ample evidence of the same skills. Emotional and piercing lead electric guitar punctuates “If I Bend” from 2013’s For the Good of All and asks essential questions any adult confronts at some point, but never in a heavy-handed way. The vocal arrangement is especially beguiling. Green is unabashed about adding offbeat instrumental voices to his songs, particularly woodwinds. Another 2013 album I Think It’s About Time’s “Putting Out the Fire” is one of the best examples of this. His ability to influence the direction of songs with such restrained and tasteful touches is one of the qualities separating him from the pack.

“Phone Cal”, an unusual 2018 single, is a seven and a half minute plus jazz instrumental. The prominent piano alternates between brief playful flashes and eloquent blue-note phrases. There’s nothing else quite like it available from Green, but don’t let his folk inclinations fool you. Sam Green’s lyrical lens boasts even greater range than his musical vision, but the latter incorporates a bevy of surprises throughout his growing discography There’s no wrong place to begin. Sam Green and the Time Machine have been releasing top shelf work for nearly a decade equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking. There’s every indication, as well, that we’ll continue hearing such fine work from him in the future.

John McCall

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