There’s something to be said about storytelling and incorporating it into music. Sam Russo does that without skipping a thought or a beat.
(Speaking of beat, I should be clear and note that I am talking about the musician Sam Russo, not the button pushing DJ. I just wanted to make myself clear there. Thanks.)
Hailing from Haverhill, England, Russo has been playing his own style of a punk-ish Americana folk-rock for years now. Having released his debut over 3 years ago, Greyhound Dreams (Red Scare Industries) is an impressive follow up.
Russo is not just another punker with a guitar and some pent up anger. When I listen to him, I think of a hybrid mix of Tim Barry, Dave Hause, and Frank Turner. The beauty of Russo is that his music does not sound like a rip off of any of the previously mentioned and is genuine and at times flooding with anguished, heartfelt memories.
Opening track “Sometimes”, a blatant blast at a harsh personal outcry, was simple yet whole, especially when others jumped in to sing along in the chorus. The song was depressing as hell when you realize why Russo admits being unruly.
“Dream All You Want” contained so many visuals in the lyrics that I had to listen to it over a couple of times to my mind could settle down. Russo singing “you either chase your dreams, or you chase your dreams away” made it clear to me, this was not a happy song. This song wasn’t just about dreams, it also was the unspoken reality of those dreams never coming true.
“Crayfish Tales” was one of the better tracks on this album in my opinion. I swear to god, this guy and I have lived in the same shoes at one point in our past. I almost predicted that he was going to sing a couple of times. “Runaways” was also a great tune and a little more upbeat and personable.
I loved that “Forever West” spoke on Russo’s journey that he experienced in the states. While listening to it, I could not help but think of my own past experiences from the time I stayed in a ghetto Motel 6 in the hood of Baltimore to when, years later, my fiancé and I drove 2800 miles to New Mexico almost non-stop. It really hit home, especially when he sung about the sun coming over the mountains as I experienced that and it was amazing. It was like a musical observation, but different.
Russo sang his heart out on “Nobody’s Fool”. I feel that this was a more important track for him as reminisced on his past pain caused from heartbreak. “I would give you everything and just disappear” was sung towards the end making for a true statement of love.
“Western Union” closed the album down strong. Things picked up in the middle with some extra help on vocals, but mostly Russo held this song down solo. Not the happiest of stories, but incredibly impactful on those lonely memories.
Russo touched on something often on Greyhound Dreams that I think we all need to consider: Life is short and full of difficulties. We’ve all been through a personal hell at some point, but Russo really leads by example in his songs (and even song titles) by singing about moving on and never stopping. No one ever said being a human being was an easy thing.
I will be honest and say I never gave Russo the chance I should have. I missed out, that is a fact. Hell, the dude even supported The Falcon overseas and I still was lame and did not buy everything he ever recorded. (Disclosure: I would have been privy to Russo years ago had I made it to that Tim Barry show at the Grog Shop…)
If you are a fan of early Frank Turner music, you will adore this album. I am not sitting here trying to compare the two, I just know what I like, and Greyhound Dreams is pretty outstanding. Russo has won himself a new fan and probably a whole lot more once they give him a well-deserved chance.
With the year coming to an end, I just found myself another album that needs to be penned onto my best of 2015 post. Nicely done Russo. I look forward to hearing more from you.