Review: Samaël, “Shadow”

Samaël - Shadow

On a recent (and particularly challenging) workday, I decided I needed some distraction from the tasks before me, and spent a few minutes skimming through Bandcamp for something new and different.

I’ve long been a fan of acoustic fingerstyle guitar (think Leo Kottke or Tommy Emmanuel) and when I clicked on the recent album from New Brunswick-born Samaël, I was intrigued.  Samaël Pelletier, who has both a master’s in musicology and a recent stint as guitarist for a metal band on his vita, provided exactly the right kind of soundtrack I needed with his nine-track instrumental project.

This is an album that provides atmosphere; my mind kept imagining a room with a single lit candle, a place of thought and serenity and peace, as I listened to it.  While Samaël’s compositions may not yet have the complexity of the heroes in the genre, they nevertheless evoke a definite sense of place – the shadows, that can be comforting and healing as well as occasionally dark and mysterious.

“True Colors” is one such example of Samaël’s ethereal style – a slow buildup to an intense finish, a four-minute journey from peace to frenzy.

While the album is almost exclusively performed on acoustic guitar, the last track (“Epilogue”) provides an intriguing finish to the project – more experimental, more spacey… is it perhaps an intimation of future paths that Samaël plans to explore in his instrumental music?

It’s often been my experience that some of my most random finds on Bandcamp or similar sites end up being artists who continue to surprise and delight me over time.  I have every confidence that Samaël falls into that category, and I look forward to his future work.

Preview and buy “Shadow” on Bandcamp.

Exposed to the wonders of CBC and Montréal Canadiens hockey as a teenager thanks to a satellite dish in rural Kansas, I have been an unabashed lover of all things Canadian ever since. I am a lifelong collector of esoteric and varied music, a teacher of piano, an avid reader, and a stamp/coin collector. In real life, I work in the field of technology.

Come find me on Goodreads.

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