Sam Bartells' EP “Let’s Go” Bursts With Hope and Faith For Times of Darkness
New Zealand native singer-songwriter Sam Bartells finally released his long awaited and powerful Country Rock EP “Let’s Go” on Friday, October 2nd. After being teased with three stunning singles “ Sign”, “Alone No More” and “Blessed And Broken” already throughout the year, we knew that something truly substantial was in the works and the finished EP has kept and gone beyond all of those promises.
“Let’s Go” is an unapologetically bare and honest compilation of what it means to be an addict, to go through rehab, to come out sober, to cherish every step of the way, and to be able to have meaningful, healthy relationships again. It’s a redemptive collection of all of the moments, the darkest ones, the most hopeful ones, and all of the beautifully uncertain ones in between.
The EP includes five songs recorded in Nashville, amongst them two brand new ones. Musically it covers all the different ways Rock and Country can blend together, with gritty grungy guitar rhythms, powerhouse drums, acoustic guitars and the mandolin as the most featured of the Bluegrass instruments. Above all Sam Bartells absolutely doesn’t hold back vocally, the true singer really shines and sings his heart out sounding like a surprisingly well chosen mix of Eddie Vedder, Adam Levine and Tim McGraw.
“Let’s go” is a fun laid back Country Rock anthem talking about Sam’s “new normal” since he’s gotten sober. It’s about craving time just with his wife amidst the craziness of being working parents of three children. It’s built on a grid of muted indie guitar riffs in the verses and goes into a sing along chorus that must be such a blast to play live. The song is written in classic 90s Country storytelling and talks about how they’re "both so dang busy. You know I miss you like you miss me”. It’s time for a little trip to the lake, for her to put on that favorite dress of his and to "slide over to me on that Chevy back seat and I know we will”, so they can reconnect and soak in the love they have for each other.
“Sign” starts on a very different note. A floaty but upbeat mandolin and dobro soaked bluegrass number in 6/8 feel, musically counterparting the rather heavy topic of the difficult detours spiritual awakening can require in life. Sam sings about how “you think I’ve been wasting my time, But I’ve just been searching for a little sign” and that he knows “there are remedies for all sorts of pain but walking these miles heals in away”. It’s a song about knowing you have to go on the journey your way even though others might not understand why you’re taking the long way home. It starts out rather uncertain and ends on a hopeful note: “Found a little peace in my darkness now”, beautifully soothing for anybody struggling with addiction especially.
The third song “Alone No More” is the most classic upbeat Country radio song on the compilation and especially features Sam’s amazing vocal talents as he belts out the chorus “take me where you wanna go, I’ll be your shadow”. It’s a song about wanting more out of a familiar, but rather platonic relationship, about mustering up the courage to tell someone you truly want them in your life, and feeling super vulnerable about it: “I wish that I could read your thoughts cause I’m too scared to start the talk”. It’s energetic, brave and positive and such a breath of fresh air!
“Blessed And Broken” already turned out to be a huge success as a single and gathered over 40K streams in the first month alone.
It paints the truly life altering moments in the struggle with drugs and alcohol, the moments of realizing what you might lose if you keep going on like this: “And I could see my grown daughter being walked down the aisle without me”. A mid tempo rock ballad with spacious lyrics and the mandolin leading the hook melodies, “Blessed and Broken” is as real and as dark as it gets, describing the physical torture of withdrawal, the fears of losing what is dearest to you and about deciding to fight for it. The message is even more powerful knowing that the birth of his third child was in fact the turning point for Sam Bartell in which he actually and finally started the process of rehab.
The EP ends with a golden ray of sunshine and hope. “Morning Light” starts with joyful acoustic guitar and soothing pedal steel guitar. Sam sings of the bridges he’s burned and how he’s “been programmed for destruction but now I have had enough”. The song develops into an uplifting inspirational Country Rock chorus with a gospel choir in the background, so that you find yourself swaying in the music as if you were literally at a beautifully moving church service. It ends on the note: “I’m gonna rise, we’re gonna rise”.
Sam Bartells has been doing music for a long time but now he’s able to truly find his purpose in it and that’s exactly what the EP “Let’s go” stands for. Going on four years of sobriety he can understand and reach out to others that are trying and need help.
The blend of his gritty alt-rock sound and his humble storytelling style builds a perfect vibe of approachable authenticity and honesty that will reach so many.
He says on instagram: “Being in the chaos of addiction is a hard lonely place. But if I can get sober I know others can. This life is worth living so keep going brothers & sisters”.