Sam Green and the Time Machine – Which Way Left?
Since he first began publically channeling his creativity in the 6th grade, Sam Green has been putting himself out there as an artist in a way only those devoted to such things truly do. His musical work reflects the same principle. His recordings with the band Time Machine are among the most lively works one will encounter both on the indie and mainstream scene and there’s a fearlessness married to playfulness in everything he touches and there’s an equally skillful thrust to the performances on his latest outing Which Way Left? reaching far beyond the yen of dilettantes and hacks who lack heart/ There’s an abundance of heart on this release. Fourteen songs might strike some as a bit much, but none of the tracks are long winding epics lacking rhyme or reason or simply throwing things against the wall in hopes they stick.
“Dandeong Ranges” shows off that point with utter clarity. In lesser hands, this song would have surely been weighed down with too much in an effort to convey points and story that Green and his accompanying musicians manage to get across with minimal playing and lean, economical lyrics. This is the sort of song that is obviously intensely personal, yet speaks across the artist’s personal experience to something we can all touch. The acoustic guitar is particularly strong. Those same qualities continue on the album’s second track “Eli”. This isn’t an invocation of place like we heard on the first song and, instead, sounds ripped from Green’s soul thanks to a riveting vocal reaching far beyond the relatively common subject. It’s even more impressive if it isn’t autobiographical because it sure does sound like the inspiration for the song is as close to Green as the mic in front of him. It’s even more impressive considering his voice is far rom the typical vocal we appreciate, but the tone and texture is ideal for the material.
“Google Me” might seem, based on title alone, to be a more light hearted affair, but Green’s songwriting uses it as a jumping off point for something much more personal. This is a performance full of longing and the instruments reflect this as well as the vocal. It unfolds slowly and deliberately, but it sounds organic and never premeditated. “Harry Ginagain” is one of the album’s most creative efforts with an almost child-like quality in its vocal melody and the simple rhymes. It is relatively simplistic in its lyric content compared to earlier tracks but “I Want to Live in Australia” is much more than a mere paean to Green’s homeland. There’s a bit of understated irony in his extolling the people of his homeland as basically unblemished souls, but one can never be sure listening to the song that he isn’t entirely serious. There is a great deal of love in the song and sifting through its possibilities is much of its fun. The final song on Which Way Left?, “’Round and Around”, might seem to traffic in somewhat trite sentiments, but they have the undeniable ring of truth and he delivers the lyric with far more light and whimsy than anything else we’ve heard before. Rarely do releases come as well rounded and complete as this album.