A Marker And A Map is a fitting title for Sam Airey’s latest EP, as it is analogous to the many journeys that he finds himself on throughout the record. From hesitant ramblings to shrewd lyrical observations, Airey is candid about his experiences growing up in a world that shuns the rural life that he is so accustomed to. And he does this through four perfectly crafted songs.
Lead single ‘The Unlocking’ opens with a stirring, delicately-picked acoustic that chases Airey’s husky vocal at its heel. The guitar melody is evocative of Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘The Giantess’ though it is fleshed out with a lilting, tremolo guitar that throws the song into bigger soundscapes. “I waited for the moment when I’d know for sure, that I could see some shelter in your eyes,” reveals Airey’s caution over new love, but he soon jumps with both feet in.
‘The Window’ is full of rich pastoral imagery – the hills where he will lay his body down, the sea where his mind can go wandering – and a motif for the longing of home appears. Airey’s rasping breath is held aloft by stunning free-flowing harmonies and discreet strings detail his every narrated move. It is really pleasing to hear such considered musical accompaniment; you can clearly picture the day when Airey first penned this song.
Country-folk, knee-jerk rhythms whizz through the abundance of things that Airey has learnt on his journey so far, in ‘To All the Pieces of the Puzzle’. We hear that gods do not love but are ignorant to love; that fairytales often promote arrogance over modesty. You cannot fail to notice that this is a more mature song lyrically, regardless of its whimsical allusions.
A flickering banjo, earthy cello, shattered drums and tender strings celebrate Airey passing on the wisdom that he has gained in ‘The Floodgates’: “The water is higher than the floodgates show, the end was always coming, why fear it so?” The song is littered with a variety of instruments, but it remains as raw and organic as the preceding tracks, with Airey’s warm tones simmering until its close.
A Marker And A Map will undoubtedly lull you into its beautiful cradle of lore, naivety, growth and love. If this is what Airey is producing so early into his career, who knows what he is yet to muster.
Words: Charlotte Krol