Will Samson @ The Folklore Rooms – 11/03/23
Eyes become misty and bodies are pulled in close to each other as Will Samson creates a moment of peace at The Folklore Rooms, with sounds of lo-fi electronica/folk and delicately sung melodies telling stories you simply never want to end.
It was an atmosphere curated from the moment you walked into The Folklore Rooms, sustained by “analogue visual artist & music maker”, Clementine Blue, who was the perfect support act. Supporting Samson at his Brighton and London shows, she brought her astute instrumentals inspired by the sounds of nature that share the same quality to Samson’s music – rich textures, deep bass, and glittery decorating shimmers.
A warm presence, she brings her music to life effortlessly. She handles her synths with a gentle, unhurried essence, moving with the ebbs and flows of the sounds and finding beauty in any imperfections. You can’t help but feel hypnotised by the magic and the waves of motion, following her suggestion to ‘zone out’, and subsequently tune in to the music.
A moment back in reality as we take a small break after her set, and then Samson takes to the stage, with his guitar and synths at the ready to whisk us away once more to enchantment- enchantment helped created by his accompanist of the night, violinist Tanah Stansfield. It’s endearing to see Stansfield hugging her violin and resting her chin on its body as she herself is swept away in the sound when not playing, or smiling over at Samson as he introduces tracks.
She plays a flowing adagio accompaniment on Shimmer, made evermore haunting by its more stripped back, acoustic sound that allows the sound of the violin to fill the room as Samson gently plucks his guitar. The song then gently trails off on sustained violin and there is a moment of silence before applause, as the audience absorb the beauty. It gives the music its sense of ‘folk’, and it’s wonderfully reminiscent of the melancholic violins of singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalist, Sleeping at Last and Keaton Henson.
It felt as if Samson performed one extended masterpiece- from set opener Arpy, to the fourth of his set, Ochre Alps, being separated by few words. It allowed the music to make its mark, his gorgeous voice captivating the audience with impressive range and beautiful tonality, instilling a sense of calm in the room. His songs depart from classic rigid structural forms, or at least, it seems that way as you lose yourself in them, allowing his prose a freedom to be candid and picturesque, and always exciting. “I carry you with thoughts of kindness” and “I still think of you every day”, from track Find a Little Light, struck me for their simplicity and sad truthfulness.
When words fail, one will often turn to music to express how they’re feeling. Perhaps writing it, or listening, a sense of emotional communion is felt, bringing peace in solidarity. As such, there was a shared affinity amongst the audience of the peace in the room, with eyes fixated on Samson or closed in rumination. It is ironic then, that it's hard to find the words to review the mesmerising musical talents Will Samson brought to The Folklore Rooms - you really must see it to believe it.
Words by Etienne Ferenc
Folklore Sessions returns on the 21st March at The Folklore Rooms for the March edition of the showcase. With music from Mohan Evans, ALY and Max Minardi.