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Since being named Best Newcomer at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Sam Carter has been stirring audiences from Camden to Canada, via an attention grabbing appearance on Later… with Jools Holland and a dreams-really-do-come-true performance in a specially assembled band to back Richard Thompson at Shrewsbury Folk Festival.

Described as ‘the finest English-style finger-picking guitarist of his generation’ by Bellowhead’s Jon Boden,​ Sam has toured the world, equally happy to perform intimate solo shows on acoustic guitar, on electric with a full band, or to collaborate with other artists. Recent collaborations have included a trip to Pakistan to work with revered South Asian classical musicians Sajid Hussain and Haroon Samuel; an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show playing songs co-written with Zimbabwean musician and former refugee Lucky Moyo; and closer to home as part of the all-star tribute tour The Lady: A Homage To Sandy Denny. In 2014 Sam teamed with Jim Moray to form False Lights, a band with the stated aim of updating the template of folk rock and making a joyful racket. Their 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated album Salvor, released the following year, was praised from all corners – proving that people really were ready for traditional English songs played in a style that owed as much to Radiohead as it did to Fairport Convention.

Sam’s third solo album, How The City Sings, captures this fervently admired singer, songwriter and guitarist at his most passionate and moving. Recorded live to tape in the studio, the album features twelve songs that are at times affectingly intimate and at others brimming with righteous rage. As the album formed, Sam began to notice these songs were shot through with images and aspects of London. After ten years living in the capital it had become not only the backdrop but a central player in the parts of his life these lyrics detail. Unconsciously, How The City Sings became a way of processing where he was, in every sense. “What’s important to me about the record is that my experiences and what I sing about have become inseparable. I’m writing about my own life but also trying to give voice to the lives of others.” How the City Sings is the most personal album of Sam Carter’s career, and when songs are this heartfelt and true they connect with us all.

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Sam is undoubtedly an English acoustic virtuoso but the virtuosity of his guitar playing does not obscure the careful narratives of his songs. There’s a thread of bittersweet romanticism and cold realism that’s occasionally reminiscent of John Martyn and, like Martyn, his guitar parts may be complex and musically intricate but they serve the songs. Fans of acoustic music rejoice, the UK‘s proud tradition of folk singer-songwriters is in safe hands.

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