18 September 2015, Independent
The first adjective that comes to mind when attempting to describe Sam England’s second EP Red Skies is “simple”. Where this word is often swarmed with negative connotations, “banal”, “uninteresting” and “dull” couldn’t be further away from the music within this record. Here, the simplicity is the real strength of the album.
Sam England’s acoustic guitar plays the main instrumental role in the record. The minimalism goes lengths to emphasise his lyrics which are both simple and incisive. The other instrumentation, especially the drums and the electric guitar, prevent the simplicity from becoming monotonous and Christie Gardner’s vocals soften the EP’s atmosphere adding a key touch of delicacy.
On his website, Sam England describes Red Skies as “a home recorded EP that follows a narrative exploring the themes of hope, fear, love and loss, and how their interconnections are seemingly unbreakable”. The first two tracks, ‘Red Skies’ and ‘Dopamine’ share the same theme: they both give a realistic depiction of the fear that you feel when you are happy; the fear that it will not last for long, making him pray “fate don’t drop me yet”.
It is an album without embellishments, but there is nothing missing
“Sing these songs line by line/ That remind me of a better time”, ‘Idols’ is about the other side of the coin: the happy days are gone and you uselessly cling to whatever is left of them. Nevertheless, a sense of hope is all over the album: the word “hope” is one of the most recurrent in the lyrics and it is also in the title of the last track of the EP, poignantly murmuring “I hope I never lose you”.
Recorded over the summer with the help of a friend, the University of Exeter’s physics student’s self-produced EP is a work full of interest, which should be warmly suggested to all the ambient folk and indie folk lovers, as well as to all those who like listening to some chilled out, evocative music. It is an album without embellishments, but there is nothing missing.
Listen to the entirety of Red Skies here, as well as his 2014 EP Equilibria.