Album Review: Sam Rae – Ten Thousand Years

Having previously worked as a cellist for Brandi Carlile, Sam Rae now releases her third solo record Ten Thousand Years. Her producer is Jacob James, another member of Carlisle’s band, and together they have recorded songs which showcase Rae’s thoughtful songwriting voice.

Sam Rae was trained as a classical cellist and her debut album was an experimental concert, using loops to create soundbending effects. Her last record began to develop more of her own songwriting and she was inspired by touring with Brandi to record this more lyrical alternative folk record. Most of these songs were written in the back of the touring bus after performing and she has also credited the Hanseroth twins for encouraging her creativity too.

The album begins with an instrumental recorded on her phone, followed by Ten Thousand Years which is a soft and gorgeous song about understanding time and what it means to be human.

Many of these songs are slow burning beauties like Colors of the Highway. She sings I’m gonna get there someday, musing on her future, touring and the mysteries of life.

A highlight of the album is the powerful Waukee where she contemplates loss and its effects on us all. The americana sound is a perfect emotional landscape for this story of her family history.

Delaine slows things down and tells the tale of her past. The name is a placeholder for the state of Iowa where she grew up and had to escape in order to find her true self.

Time and the past are central themes of the record. Strangest Thing is about those moments when you’re haunted by what you’ve lost, imagining another life for yourself. On Just in Case she sings of shadows and dreams, using her cello to stunning effect.

Love is Love references her queer identity and also her experiences in the music industry. It’s never too late to look at the sun, she reminds us.

Dying Here finishes the album with some melancholy reflections on the current situation faced by immigrants in America today. It’s a thoughtful and compassionate end to the record concluding with the lines ‘The fire’s not in the rich, it’s in the fire that lights the ditch.’ We can only hope to find our way out of the dark together.

Ten Thousand Years is a beautifully haunting record from a talent who has found new confidence in her songwriting voice. I know there’s an avalanche of new releases out at the moment but spend some time with this one and you will be richly rewarded.


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