The first thing that really strikes you about Samuel Markus is the great range of music he, and the Only Ones, explore on 'New Dawn'. The album is simply incredible. Fact! The first major shock is that Samuel, with brilliantly intuitive songs and a haunting and mature voice is only 21. Yes, this singer who explores the great mysteries of the human heart is only just legal in the States! When you read more about Samuel you start to realise that he has also been around a while, producing music with Rosewood Thieves, and he also writes and directs his own videos, oh and I did I mention he is only 21!
Anyway, on to the music; Samuel is strikingly gifted, evident from the opening track 'Rosa' all the way through to 'Something Else' (the exit track). 'Rosa' evokes all the feeling of Cream, and 1967 psychedelial, kicking off with an infectious beat that you just can't sit still to! 'Another Day' takes the pace down a notch, but allows the listener to really absorb the range of Samuel's vocal ability. With a gravelly voice in the ilk of Dylan or Cash, Samuel just grabs you and haunts your sound system. 'New Dawn' presents us with a totally different style in the range of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. This song is infectious, and by the second listen you are singing along enjoying the brilliant guitar riffs and catchy chorus. 'What's on Your Mind Babe?' wouldn't be out of place on the best (in my opinion) Dylan album 'Blood on the Tracks', Samuel may only be 21 but he has clearly experienced the best and worst of love and relationships. A simple guitar and easy beat, along with an intensely haunting vocal, ending in a crescendo of sound create a song full of blood, sweat and tears that most can relate to: 'I wish I didn't love you like I do'. Just brilliant!
'Suzanne' is a song of loss, 'I still don't know what love means' and learning 'but I think I am beginning to understand'. A little like Ray Lamontagne, but possibly better, Markus knows how to make us listen! Following this, and kicking in with a stamping drum beat 'Miles Away' takes us on yet another new direction and a new journey. Track 7 'Jitterbug' is just that; a Jitterbug of a song, is there any musical style Markus can't take on, take apart and produce and a new and exciting way? The songs just keep getting better, 'Deeper Well' races through New Orleans funky blues, whilst 'East End of the Bay' is a sexy sultry song set to dazzling guitar riffs and 'One Door Land', not unlike the Dave Matthews Band, creates a 'wonderland' of sound attacking our aural systems!
The final three songs on 'New Dawn' are the most reflective; 'The Only One' reminds me of Elliott Smith and the haunting lyrics he produced in his short yet creatively exuberant life. Samuel's voice is soothing and emotional embracing perhaps the best lyrics on 'New Dawn'. However, 'The Offering' is my favourite song on 'New Dawn', and the one on which Markus sounds the most like Zimmerman (this is not a criticism). Subtle guitars and Markus' voice are perfectly matched on a song that sounds like it has been around forever!
The album ends in fine fettle; 'Something Else' is just Markus' voice (which sounds like he recorded it in a cupboard) is muffled but this only adds to the poignancy of this song, 'let's just admit how much this hurts', which rounds off a truly superb album.
'New Dawn' is a revelation, and Samuel Markus is going to be huge! Oh and did I mention he is only 21