WINSTON Is A Class Act – THE SOUTH LONDON PRESS
22 April 2016
A SOUTH East London teacher has just released his debut album which he wrote, performed and produced.
Sam Winston’s first solo album The Fire & The Icicle features a wider variety of instruments than usually associated with a singer songwriter including his uncle’s 100 year old accordion, a Celtic Harp, a Victorian dulcitone and mandolins. The 26 year-old from Sidcup, who grew up in Eltham and went to St Mary’s Primary School and then St Thomas More RC School, has spent four years writing and arranging all 10 of the songs, sung the lead vocals and most of the harmonies, played all but a few of the instruments and spent countless hours producing the tracks in his home studio.
Mr Winston who worked as a cover teacher at schools including secondary Blackfen School for Girls stepped away from full time teaching last summer to focus on his music. However he does still give private music lessons and currently has students aged four to 70. Recently he has also started teaching adults with learning disabilities in Charlton, Abbey Wood and Eltham helping them build up their musical confidence and self-esteem. The work is organised through the Shooters Hill School of Arts and funded by Greenwich council.
In reference to his change from full-time teaching, the musician whose parents still live in Eltham, says: “I’m in a happier, more flexible place now which is much the reason why I’ve been able to finish the songs for my album over recent months.”
He describes the album as being in the genre of ’Independent Folk Pop’. While some lyrics relate to an intimate relationship with someone from his past all have a personal resonance with him. One track, Stand & Fight, focuses on the 2011 London riots. Sam suggests in the song that instead of violence “we’ll use words and we’ll use heart to rebuild what they tore apart”. Speaking of his hopes for the album, he said: “I simply want it to build its own audience and gain momentum and hope that those who are kind enough to listen to the songs enjoy them.”
All the artwork was hand-drawn by German artist Christian Brix and his Dresden-based company KIDS Artworks. Whilst the recording and editing were undertaken by Mr Winston at his Bexley studio, mixing was completed by Chris Brown, former head engineer at Abbey Road Studios. The album was then mastered by Geoff Pesche at the same location. Mr Winston who has played gigs to raise money for Demelza Hospice Care for Children in Eltham has a number of charity gigs lined up. He is also in the process of arranging more musical events for Young Minds, a charity which deals with mental health issues in children and young people.
The Fire & The Icicle was released on Friday April 15th on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and other digital platforms.
Winston is an instinctive melodist and soulful to the tips of his toes. None of these 10 songs outstays its welcome, but every one shifts subtly and rewardingly between or within genres, buoyed by an undeniably pure-pop sensibility. Even at its most melancholy, Winston’s voice has the sunny elan of a Bruno Mars (one of his influences), and even a can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it Caribbean lilt, like Finley Quaye’s cousin, twice removed. Elsewhere, there’s a hint of the bluesy rasp of Paolo Nutini, another of his musical heroes, but Winston is also consistently smooth and charismatic – a romantic with his ear attuned to the finest R&B, past and present.