Editor's Note 3-13-20: Canadian Daniel Romano will not appear, preferring not to travel at this time.
It’s long been said that the only constant is change. New Orleans based artist Sam Doores knows this sentiment well and his debut self-titled solo album delves into the philosophical implications that come with the winds of change.
Doores spent ten years writing music and constantly touring with the Deslondes. The band made waves with their approach to Americana blending R & B, bluegrass and folk. The band collectively decided to take a pause.
“It felt like we needed to take a break and allow space for us each to do our own creative things and at the same time, we were just burned out on touring and needed to take a break,” says Doores. “We ended it well, we are all still friends,” he adds.
Doores doesn't rule out a reunion with his beloved band. “I think we all have the dream of making another record together, you know, being old men playing shows together one day.”
He also experienced a major shift in his personal life as a long relationship simultaneously came to an end. Doores took this time as an opportunity to focus on his solo work, which didn’t always fit in with the Deslondes sound, and to travel the world.
"I always fall in love with a new style of music every time I go somewhere and hear new ways people approach their own music, for me it keeps me from being locked into one style," describes Doores.
“The Deslondes, we really had found our sound. There was a lot of stuff that I had written and was curious about doing that didn't quite fit into that mold so it felt like an opportunity to get a little weird and try out the other things.”
Doores had begun recording his solo material in Berlin while on tour with the Deslondes in the studio of his friend Anders Christophersen. Doores was the first, and last, artist to record in the studio over the span of years.
“It was really interesting to be a part of the whole process of that studio; see all the musicians that revolved around it, see all the great records that came out of it and be the person that just kind of chipped a way a song or two here or there once or twice a year and to get to go through all the changes of it,” says Doores.
“The album itself got mostly written and recorded when I was getting out of a major creative partnership and a relationship. It was just stepping into the unknown and trying to make sense out of it all, and this project really gave me a chance to do that in a way that felt exciting and productive.”
The album is a departure from the known sound of his previous work with the Deslondes but still carries the familiarity of Doores piano playing, smooth voice and strong lyrical abilities. Doores added string arrangements to this album and many tracks have a more doo wop sound reminiscent of Motown girl groups.
Doores got some help from friend, former bandmate and fellow New Orleans resident, Alynda Mariposa Segarra from Hurray For The Riff Raff. Segarra’s vocals on “Other Side of Town” further add to the classic R&B vibes while singing her heart out about searching for love.
The album opens with the gorgeous instrumental piece “Tempelhofer Dawn” serving as a sunrise to a new day or a curtain slowly opening as a play begins. Doores described how he always imagined having an instrumental song to open an album and spending many mornings in Tempelhofer park in Berlin, a repurposed Military ground where now families have picnics and rollerblade, helped to inspire the track.
“I hope it just kind of captured the vibe of being in a foreign environment and I don't know, that melody for some reason just captured the feeling of being there at dawn in this weird new place working on the record.” Doores credits Christophersen for pushing him to embrace and explore new instruments and sounds.
Straight out of the sunrise, listeners move onto “Let It Roll”, a sweet, nostalgic tune paired with an equally lovely video with home footage from Doores and Christophersen’s adventures. “Let It Roll” plays like a little prayer for loved ones, inviting them to join you or move on but always in good standing.
Doores manages to bounce from reflective and melancholy to fun and bouncy throughout the album. At times Doores brings to mind a Leonard Cohen vibe with his use of female backing harmonies and poetic lyrics, an influence he says he cannot deny as a songwriter.
The album will officially be released on New West records March 13 and Doores will celebrate with a record release show in the big easy featuring a horn and string section but has a different approach for the tour. “We have a stripped down, four piece rock and roll band for the tours and the string parts are implied,” he says.
Doores and his backing band will also serve as the band for fellow New Orleans artist Esther Rose who will be joining them on tour and in Houston
along with Daniel Romano. Doores is excited to return to Houston and to the Continental Club where he previously played.
“Having a musical connection to Houston, more than just that spot that we got stuck in traffic on the way, it feels really nice to be able to stop there and play music.”
Sam Doores will perform Monday, March 16 at Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth, 5:30 p.m. Free. And with Esther Rose and
Daniel Romano, March 16 at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, doors open at 9 p.m. $12