SAM HOFFMAN: FAIRWEATHER

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       When I ask friends for a 1-sentence verbal review of the Sam Hoffman’s Fairweather, one of those classically good bandcamp finds, the project is met with a chorus of “familiar” and “heard-it-before.” That instinct is best explained by Fairweather’s glimmering, upbeat sounds and singer-songwriter attitude. There is something about it that lies close to modern rock scene’s casual playability and 60s and 70s psychedelic tunes. The potential issue with creating a music that exists within an already established scene (in this case, Nashville) is that it can bring up enough musical comparisons for listeners to drown him out (or for a musician to be unlikely to leave it.) But it’s an intelligent move for Hoffman, whom I am now a fan of, to start from a place he knows well.

       That place I talk of is an emotional and music-related one, although the two are the same by their nature. As Hoffman remembers relationships, faces, and places, I hear a number of odes and love stories about growing in and out of phases and mild growing pains. Fairweather wavers between crisp sounds and washed out tones. The album blends the skills of its contributing musicians in the flexibility it has for tried and true rhythms and Hoffman’s new take on rock, pop blends. Hoffman’s writing tendencies for literary phrases, personal lament, and emotional probing soften his music enough for listeners to reflect on who he could be talking to. Most of the time, it never feels like he’s speaking to us. Lyrical apathy makes it seem like there’s always something else on his mind.

       The diverse music scene in Nashville has always revealed the small, tightly-knit communities of musicians and creators developing their own individual style on the edge of country, rock, garage, and groove. Sam Hoffman is one of these artists, writing music familiar with modern rock fans and bringing with it a heavy amount of nostalgia. What the nostalgia is for is largely personal, and I am unsure at the end of the project how I feel. The familiarity is largely a strength, as what I hear is not the same sounds as the next listener. Having grown up in Nashville myself, I know a feel-good show when I hear one.

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SUSAN MOON