The Zodiac, Oxford
15th October 2006
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly (full stops preferred) is 20-year-old Sam Duckworth, whose 3-year touring machine rumbles into Oxford again tonight, following the release of his debut album, “The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager”.
Sam and his guitar are joined by cornet and drums, and a laptop kicks in with basslines, strings and beats; words like “nu-folk” and “folktronica” have been used to attempt to describe the overall effect. To me, though, the lyrics stand out ahead of any instrumentation. Sam covers personal experiences (like his love-hate relationship with his hometown, Southend, in “Lighthouse Keeper”) and issues he feels strongly about; “Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly” decries the corporate exploitation of poor workers, and “Glass Houses” introduces Sam’s affiliation with the Love Music Hate Racism campaign. The music isn’t dull in comparison, though; the instruments weave and layer, the melodies are catchy and the rhythms diverse. “Call Me Ishmael” (apparently written after a party in Headington) is all funky and syncopated, while “I-Spy” starts like “Wonderwall” but ends up as a respectably modern folk-emo hybrid.
Sam’s songwriting comes across as genuine and honest; the Fair Trade merchandise suggests his political/protest songs aren’t just for effect. He neglects to mention that he’s now on a major label (Atlantic) but does dedicate a song to BSM Records, who put his stuff out 3 years ago “when nobody else cared”. He’s an engaging character; he thanks the audience for selling out the gig, and mentions his Oxford friends and thanks them for their support, saying that’s more important to him than record sales. He does have limitations – he doesn’t have enough songs for an encore, so invites the support acts Keith and Darts on stage to cover “Abracadabra” – but all the ingredients are there him to develop into a well-loved, established act of importance to both impressionable teenagers and the music industry.