SAM RUSSO: Storm: CD

One of the biggest trends in punk these days is the leveraging of a position as the front person of a seminal band to a solo career as a folk musician. We’ve seen it from Chuck Ragan. We’ve seen it from Brendan Kelly. We’ve seen it from Tim Barry. And why not? Once you’ve established a dedicated fan base, it makes sense to occasionally shed the shackles of a full band and tour with just your acoustic guitar. Your name on the bill sells tickets and without any other band members, you’re pocketing the extra cash. Sam Russo’s sound fits in with this crowd. A British folksinger, he has played in the U.K. alongside Ragan as well as The Loved Ones’ Dave Hause and Lucero’s Ben Nichols. But unlike them, Russo doesn’t have the benefit of a notable punk background. He was never in any bands you’ve heard of. It’s just him and his acoustic guitar, starting from the ground up. And yet, Russo does what he does just as well, if not better than, most of the known heavyweights of this genre. His songs are evidence that while many of his musical contemporaries were out touring with their various bands, Russo was home getting his heart broken. Storm is an album about divorce, heartbreak, and letting go of love. You may be asking, “Do we really need another one of those?” Maybe not. But we need this one. Russo’s songs are staggeringly beautiful. They are deeply personal yet universally relatable, cripplingly sad yet toe-tappingly catchy, intricately poetic yet instantly enjoyable. There’s nothing fancy about the production of this album. Russo avoids all the pitfalls that typically accompany albums like this. There are no overly dramatic piano ballads, no sorrowful violins, no folksy harmonicas. Storm is just a man, his guitar, and some sad stories to tell.

 –Dan Ozzi (Red Scare)