Sam Robbins

REVIEW: Sam Robbins “Bigger Than In Between”


Sam Robbins – Bigger Than In Between

Sam Robbins continues with a laid-back polished repertoire that reminds my vintage ears of singers who graced FM rock stations out of class more than intensity. Sam’s been compared to James Taylor, but he doesn’t have that distinctive a voice. John Denver, but he doesn’t have that high mountain country good-ole-boy vigorous style. However, Jackson Browne – yeah, OK — Sam’s “Easy To Blame” & “Just One Cronkite” achieves that lofty peak. Fortunately, Sam isn’t as wordy as Browne.

Sam’s ear-caressing melodies are more memorable of vocalists like the late Kenny Rankin (“Silver Morning”), Jonathan Edwards (“Sunshine”) & Don McLean (“Vincent”).

The first tune to entice is “Reverence” with its somewhat distorted guitar throb & pulsing vocals. The music has a great heartbeat, a confident sound spreads with the inspired delivery. Why I disagree with some comparisons in who Sam sounds like is because many are more intense & aggressive. Dave Matthews? I don’t hear it all. Jack Johnson? Not that soulful yet.


Produced by Neilson Hubbard (drums/percussion) the 12-cut, 52-minute Bigger Than In Between (Drops Aug 5–Nine Athens) is truly an expansion of New Hampshire’s Sam Robbins’ musical identity (acoustic guitar/vocals). Sam has some seriously good songs.

“What Kind of Faith Are You Praying In,” — not too spiritual, not too popish, or even folky. Just right. I listen carefully & I hear in “All the Pieces Are There,” the clear tonality & style that began with Kenny Rankin. I hear it a lot. The dominant gentleness with sparkling satiny vocals & the soaring arresting voice as needed, the deep tones as the acoustic guitar pours musical syrup across those lyrical pancakes. It’s delicious stuff.

Sam’s storytelling is also rooted a bit in bands like The Blue Nile as he drifts through his notes airy & ear-caressing. Recorded in a loose live casual manner – the quality is evident. “Will It Ever Feel,” is an excellent ballad. Many songs, simple as they are, are not drenched in cliches or sugary pop-oriented subjects. Sam sings with the purest of motives. Nothing is embellished, they don’t have to be. The songs are seasoned into the picturesque well-established styles of Jim Croce, Harry Chapin & Tim Hardin.

There are some missteps – “Hard To Hate,” very much like Kenny Rankin vocally lacks his range — limps along as a good idea but is not fully fleshed out. Keywords are not emphasized. Better inflection needs to be introduced. Sam is an expressive singer but because he hasn’t a powerhouse voice he relies on his vivid interpretations, suppleness of his tone & inspired delivery. He’s often on target as he is on “Another Wall To Build,” which could come across as a James Taylor-type tune.

Musicians: Michael Rinne (bass), Juan Solorzano (electric guitar/pedal steel) & Halley Neal (excellent backing vocals/vocal arrangements). The CD @

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