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A Magazine for Sheffield

Split EP

Leeds-based singer songwriter Serious Sam Barrett has teamed up with Alabama country outfit the Pine Hill Haints to record a limited edition split 10" ahead of the release of his upcoming second album. Complete with signed, hand screen printed sleeve, this is an attractive package containing four tracks of authentic country, bluegrass and blues and also comes with an accompanying CD.

Barrett's first contribution is 'Rock 'n' Roll Heart', a heartbroken lament about love lost and finding solace in his favourite songs: "So I put on some Jerry Lee / It took away the pain / And I felt like I was walking the streets of Tennessee again". Based around an accomplished guitar line with a bluesy strum-pick pattern, the track has a carefree, melodic construction and the vocals remind me a little of Van Morrisson. His second offering 'Truckstop Sunrise' is somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Parr or the Tallest Man on Earth's self-titled EP, containing a kind of vitality and optimism that I sometimes feel is lacking from contemporary singer songwriters.

The first Pine Hill Haints track, '16 Coal Black Houses', opens with a banjo and harmonica intro before settling into a rolling country rhythm underlined by booming double bass. The lyrics talk of the band's roots in Alabama and for obvious reasons their sound is much more American than Barrett's, but the tracks complement each other well. Similarly, 'The Nail That Rises Up Will Be Hammered Down' is another country excursion, this time with a slightly distorted acoustic guitar which lends an almost punk sentiment. Although it is less exciting than its predecessor, I can imagine this song really working in a live setting, with group harmonies adding a new dimension to the main vocal line.

Sam Barrett and his merry touring troupe are as DIY as they come. Help support them by buying the record and CD at

by Sam Walby (he/him)