Sam Levin: Frame of Mind

Sam Levin
Frame of Mind
(Clarence Productions)

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Opening with a spritey, arpeggiated guitar sound, synth strings, and splashy hits, “Everything’s Okay” assures us that maybe everything really is ok for Sam Levin on his new album Frame of Mind. He presents a laconic lyric underpinned by the running sound here, but this treat-of-an-opener brings in sweetly layered harmonies and some interesting sounds – pretty much the sonic landscape we find throughout the dozen that follow. There’s “Shades of Pale” with Levin’s first solid acoustic guitar playing and an odd snap percussion behind him. I like his sad, hesitancy to the vocals; it really is very engaging in the word pictures he is creating. “Ride” provides the biggest production here with handclaps and a bunch of vocalists creating a jaunty centerpiece you can’t help but sing along to. We get a snapping but cool beat and Michael Schwartz funking up the drums for on “I Sure Hope Not (Again).” There’s lead acoustic from Levin here, while “Telescope” rolls up on the listener in its picking glory, again mining that sad, sweet Levin voice. This is a great tune; I love the lyrics and the approach to opening up the world of this song. Haley Shickman duets here with her weak-yet-effective vocals. We get plodding, hesitant keys ending here with “Tru Mo,” a wry, spoken instructional how-to-play-music piece that grooves as it continues. Sam Levin is obviously a smart songwriter, mining some stringent programming sensibilities behind his interesting voice and well-played acoustic. Frame Of Mind is solid work.

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