Sam Semple is a singer-songwriter with a debut album called Mystery Songs, a brilliant rite of passage record in which he writes deeply about human hope and doubt, inspired by the coming birth of his own son.
“Sam Semple’s Mystery Songs have been haunting me for weeks. Here is a real new talent. A singer songwriter with a mastery of lyrics, a sweet voice, and an angle on life that will make you think even as you hum and smile… fabulous debut.”
– Stephen Fry
“Very special. I listened to all of it and it’s fantastic, it really, really is. A gem. I just love everything about it… a beautiful album.”
– Janice Long, BBC Radio 2
“Gorgeous debut… The quality of this record reminds me of a golden time when one could site down for 40 minutes and be completely absorbed by music. The likes of Cat Stevens and CSNY spring to mind. Sam Semple has unearthed a gem.”
– Maverick Magazine
“A remarkably assured debut album… well-crafted originals of classic, Radio 2-friendly folk-pop.”
– Acoustic Magazine
“Mystery Songs is full of melody, poetry… Every song glows with loving care, each one of them the product of constant nurture and attention.”
– Three Monkeys
In 2004, seeing Kris Kristofferson in concert for the first time was a major epiphany for Sam, marking a gradual turning point in his fortunes as a musician:
“That night I was so uplifted by Kristofferson. His songs were terrific, so poignantly delivered. He has this great dignity about him as an artist. That is what I want to be like, I thought. It was such a truthful performance.”
Gradually, Sam started to enjoy some success writing with other artists. He co-wrote ‘Better’ with Tom Baxter now considered a classic song covered by many artists including Boyzone and Englebert Humperdink. He also co-wrote ‘Miracle’ with Tom, the signature track for the BBC’s Beijing Olympics inspiring closing monatge and more recently he wrote ‘How Would You Do It?’ with French pop star Medi, a top ten hit in Japan’s Billboard 100 Chart.
What he hadn’t yet done though was make a serious album of own songs, songs he’d been writing for years:
“I wanted to write Mystery Songs like a book, from chapter to chapter, song to song. I see it as a whole piece of work, to be listened to from start to finish. My ambition was to use poetic language to express a strong sense of journey, mystery and wonder.”
When he asked for help to make his own record, an illustrious band of musicians were happy to help out, including: Tom Baxter, Scott Matthews, Jamie Morrison (Stereophonics), Sam Lewis (Owiny Sigoma), Charlie Winston, Danny Keane (Mulatu, Bat for Lashes).
Sam used to work for Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Adams had formed a company in Covent Garden called The Digital Village:
“It was such a privilege to be introduced to someone like him and to the values he represents. He was really inspiring, the quintessential English genius; a very, very clever man and eternally curious about the world. I eventually ended up with the job title Editor of the Earth Edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.”
Music is in Sam’s family and he is also much inspired by his singer dad, Shel Macrae, who sang with The Fortunes, a ’60s/’70s harmony pop group (‘You’ve Got Your Troubles’, ‘Freedom Come, Freedom Go’, ‘Storm In A Teacup’).
“After my Dad left The Fortunes, as a child I travelled with him up and down the country to smoke-filled working men’s clubs, bingo halls and cabaret venues. Through ups and downs he’s always managed to provide for his family his whole life just by using his great talent as a singer. As a dad myself, I can see more clearly now what a great achievement this is. I’m really proud of him.”
The end result of Sam’s own endeavours is Mystery Songs, a wonderfully moving, emotional-sounding record that captures a unique songwriting talent. The more you listen, the more it reveals itself. Timeless in feel, it’s like a favourite book, evoking the literary song-craft era of the ‘70s offering glimpses of Neil Young, Kris Kristofferson, James Taylor, Cat Stevens.
Sam has recently supported and toured with many great artists including Lambchop, Patty Griffin, Thea Gilmore, Tom Baxter, Laura Cantrell, Penguin Café and The Webb Sisters.