Sam Robbins counts his blessings as he boogies down memory lane with his new blues-rocker Reverence — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The first preview of the Nashville singer-songwriter and former Voice contestant’s forthcoming sophomore album Bigger Than In Between, Reverence delivers a tasty, satisfying blend of groove, grit, grace and gratitude. As Robbins recalls prized possessions and rewinds key moments of his life — from opening the case of his first guitar to appearing on national television — he learns to appreciate what he’s been given, realizes nothing is as simple as it seems, and concludes the real key to success is the ability to stay true to yourself. Although, of course, some fuzzy blues guitar licks, a bouncing boom-chikka beat, an understated organ and a warm, lightly sanded drawl don’t hurt either.
Something else that might not be as simple as it seems: Robbins’ bout of thoughtful introspection was prompted by none other than the former David Wooderson. “I was listening to an interview with Matthew McConaughey,” Robbins recalls. “I wasn’t expecting a ton of inspiration.” But Mr. ‘Awlrite, Awlrite, Awlrite’ surprised him. “He said something like ‘People these days don’t have any reverence for the things they have’ and that thought really intrigued me. I didn’t love the negativity in it, but I just loved the word … there is such power in it! It really got me thinking about the things in my life that I’ve cherished and why I treasured those things.
“The song is long, but I just needed the last verse. It focuses more on my mindset and how it connects to the idea of reverence, beyond just physical things. I wanted something to lead off the album that would really pop! The vibe of the song is really different from anything I’ve released before. We wanted to create an old-time rock/blues kind of feel — driving drums and bass, and classic sounds. I wanted something that would just blast right out of the gate for this new album.”
Reverence, he admits, is a unique entry in his discography. Which makes it a perfect fit with the album it heralds. “Bigger Than In Between is a very different vibe from my first album Finally Feeling Young, (which) was very DIY — we recorded it over the course of several years, in college and then in the living room in Nashville. You could hear my songwriting grow and change, and that was what was so interesting. For Bigger Than in Between, I took a totally different approach. These songs were all written post-COVID, which gives them an interesting flavour. I wouldn’t say that they’re directly about COVID, but these past few years brought so much in all of us that we didn’t know was there before. The songs are about reawakening, changing mindsets and getting more comfortable with yourself and your flaws.”
Recorded at Nashville’s Skinny Elephant Recording — “about two minutes from my house,” Robbins notes — the album was produced by Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Jason Isbell, John Prine), and features a crack squad of Music City talent. “The album is fully tracked live — no vocal tuning, very few overdubs,” Robbins explains. “We just wanted to get what it would sound like with me and a band just having fun with the songs. The electric guitars are played by Ruston Kelly’s guitar player Juan Solorzano, who was able to elevate my guitar parts with amazing riffs and effects. Michael Rinney from Miranda Lambert’s band played bass, Neilson played drums, and my girlfriend Halley Neal came up with amazing backing vocal arrangements and sang all over the album. She’s also featured on the (title) song, which was recorded all live in one take!”
Hubbard’s vintage approach fits Robbins like a glove. A self-described “old soul singer-songwriter,” he updates the sound of ’70s troubadour storytellers with a modern, upbeat edge. In 2018, he auditioned on NBC’s The Voice for Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Levine, who remarked, “You have a gorgeous, gorgeous, voice.” He was the season’s “young James Taylor” and the first artist to perform a Jim Croce song. He returned to the show during the Comeback Stage, which included a mentoring session with Kelsea Ballerini.
Since moving to Nashville in 2019 following his graduation from Berklee College of Music, the New Hampshire native has made a splash. He performed at the famed Bluebird Cafe within a month of arriving in the city, became the audience winner of a Nashville Rising Song qualifier event, won the Eddie’s Attic Songwriter’s Shootout, and was among six 2021 winners of the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition, one of the largest and most prestigious songwriting competitions in the U.S.
Bigger Than In Between is set for release on Aug. 5. Listen to Reverence above, pre-save the song HERE, check out more of Sam Robbins’ music below, and connect with him at his website, Facebook and Instagram.
Sam Robbins on Tour
June 2 | Hastings, NE | The Lark Listening Room
June 3 | Aurora, NE | House Concert (The Leadership Center)
June 4 | Wray, CO | 4th and Main Listening Room
June 12 | Englewood, CO | House concert
June 24 | Belleville, IL | Venue on Main
June 30 | Nashville, TN @ The 5 Spot
July 8 | Cary, NC | House concert
July 9 | Washington, DC | House concert
July 14 | Reading, MA | House concert (w/ Halley Neal)
July 15 | Portsmouth, NH | House concert
July 16 | Basking Ridge, NJ | Ross Farm (opening for Carrie Welling)
July 23 | Manchester, NH | House concert
July 28 | Bridgewater, MA | Bridgewater Music Alley
July 31 | Bridgton, ME | Hayloft at Dragonfly Barn (w/ Halley Neal)
Aug. 4 | Cambridge, MA | Club Passim (Album release)
Aug. 5 | Portsmouth, NH | House concert
Aug. 6 | Francestown, NH | Old Meeting House Concert Series
Aug. 19 | Spring Lake, MI | Free Fridays Concert Series
Aug. 21 | Pittsburgh, PA | House concert
Aug. 26 | Robbinsville, NJ | The Folk Project Troubadour series (opening for Carla Ulbrich)
Aug. 27 | Robbinsville, NJ | House concert
Sept. 15 | Nashville, TN | Interstate 88 @ Arnold’s Country Kitchen (AmericanaFest)
Sept. 17 | Alto, MI | House concert
Sept. 19 | Indianapolis, IN | Irving Theatre
Sept. 22 | Chattanooga, TN | JMac’s (w/ Andy Sydow)
Sept. 23 | Woodstock, GA | Rootstock Listening Room (w/ Andy Sydow)
Sept. 30 | Maplewood, MO | The Focal Point (w/ Andy Sydow)