Music News

The Samples

It won't take long for faithful Samples fans to pick up on the nostalgic undercurrent of America. "It seems like it was 70,000 years ago," sings guitarist, vocalist and sole remaining original member Sean Kelly on "Boulder," a slow reggae jam that nods to the group's beginnings over two decades ago. But there's more to this album than a simple journey through the past. The quintet stakes out some new territory, from the eerie, pentatonic guitar rock of "Fukishima" to the reflective ballad "America" — with its echoes of Neil Young in Kelly's vocals — and the country harmonica and pedal-steel guitar of "And I Dreamed." Guest Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield adds a novel sound to certain tracks. Even so, the Samples haven't veered too far from their signature sound. The act clearly still knows how to appeal to its base, with easygoing ballads and thoughtful lyrics.

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A.H. Goldstein