Sam Fuller-Smith performs under the moniker Whisperer, an indie-folk project he started in 2014. The genre was still going strong at the time, but Fuller-Smith has managed to keep his sound separate from popular foot-stompers like The Lumineers or Mumford & Sons. Instead, he has opted for a subtler sound with the right amount of emptiness. In March of 2019, he released his second album entitled Am I the Meadow or the Mountain? It is a beautiful collection of songs with hauntingly sparse arrangements and Fuller-Smith’s vocals at the forefront.
The opening track “Don’t Be a Stranger” mesmerizes with its fingerpicking. But Fuller-Smith’s David Crosby like vocal approach is what you will ultimately connect to. He slowly weaves a story together over the course of the song, only being interrupted by a dream-like arrangement of vibes and electric guitar. The song “I Have to Believe” has similarly limited instrumentation. It begins with just vocals and guitar until it opens up with a myriad of guitars that sound almost ethereal.
On the dark “Lullaby for a Ditch,” we get our first taste of Luke Schneider’s pedal steel. It is a fitting addition to the song, as Schneider plays it in a lamenting fashion to match lyrics like “Lullaby for a ditch / All you can do is look up” or “I can see what laid you down / it’s passing formed a darkness never found.” Schneider’s pedal steel pops up again on “Blistering City Blues,” but this time more intense, as it accompanies one of the more upbeat moments on the album. His performances throughout are a pleasure to listen to.
There is not much to be critical of on Am I the Meadow or the Mountain? Though, on the song "Blistering City Blues,” the drumming did not match the energy at times. It could have been more dynamic, but the decision is easy to look past.
Overall, this is a consistent album. It’s lively when it needs to be and quiet and contemplative at the right times. It’s clear that Fuller-Smith knew what he wanted to accomplish on Am I the Meadow or the Mountain? and he did it.
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