Llanas Music 2018
Former BoDean delivers paean to his long-lost six-string and longs for his love to Appalachian lore.
If the texture of Sam Llanas’ 2014 album “The Whole Night Thru” exposed bare, baroque nerve to the listener, the fiber of that record’s follow-up is quite different, showing reckless abandon but drilling deeper in its creator’s psyche. Its title may not refer to a Spanish artist, with whom Sam shares romanticism – this “Goya” was a guitar stolen from Llanas two decades ago and recently retrieved by pure chance – yet the American’s new numbers are as vivid as old paintings, because here he’s tapping in the heart of country, even though pieces such as “Rio” take the genre’s pale-skin tropes to tropics and add adventurousness to a more typical fare. Still, “typical” shouldn’t be taken for granted, when there’s a guy behind “Looking For Me Somewhere” involved.
Not for nothing Llanas placed “Little Song” and “Little Song II” at the very center of “Return”: these tracks come together like two sides of the same coin – one scintillating albeit a bit sad, the other upbeat in a bluegrass way, both high on hope – to demonstrate the breadth of his method. That’s why pop sensibilities set to a rockabilly groove, fill the infectious “Long Way Home” and the brass-kissed “All Day” with a cheerful chug as if to contrast “Heroes” which, plaintive tones aside, sounds like a sequel to a certain Bowie classic, while “All Alone Again” deliberately channels Dylan wisdom and whine. With joie de vivre oozing out of the sun-dappled “Follow Your Heart” where lap steel aids and abets Sam’s merry voice whose tentative yodels also fuel the “live a little, love a little” refrain in “Recipe” – those are his chosen ingredients of happiness – the autobiographical “Down The Line” has seriousness written all over it.
“I’m gonna keep moving forward,” admits the singer in this epic and, given the “Part 1” part of the album’s title, his route is already mapped out. So long, then.