This guy has some good sounds, great lyrics, and straight-to-the-point artistry in his old soul folk. Even the harmonica fits, most of the time, and this is years after Blues Traveler tried to revive it. But that is what makes Sam Bergquist different – he would rather be out living for the day and taking creative chances than be stuck looking out on the inside, wishing for the dawn of acoustic sunrise like most dreamers do.
Take a listen to “Do Things Different” and you’ll see (and hear) exactly what I mean.
This kind of song manages to mangle bar side acoustics with a slight musical theatre approach. While some might be quick to label this guy’s stuff as cringe, rhyming “blowin” “snowin” and “showin,” those same people can’t separate talent from originality. And to me, Sam has both of these traits in spades.
He may not have a song that risks as much as Bobby Dylan did gimmick-wise on “I Want You”, but Sam is entirely authentic with his steadfast, heart-hungry boogie. That is enough by the standards of today.
He is all about getting older and laughing in the face of those who told him to “get a grip on reality.” “Am I Wiser?” is a great flip of the hazy older guy reflecting track, with his voice shining as clearly as it did at 23 when nobody loved him. The guitar here too is incendiary, a terrific ode to country-doused early nineties George Strait riffing.
“When it comes down to it, what’s most important is our relationships with others. That’s what the songs on “Wiser Then” explore.”
This guy follows his instinct and bravado with much success, he just needs some visuals in this age of Tik-Tokin’ hot doggin’ nicknamin’ foolishness. Songs like “Darlin” highlight his range with that guitar, as well as accentuate that his uncomplicated cadence is what makes him worth a few repeat listens.
Of course this four track album could use a lot less harmonica, even Neil Young would be able to figure that out after a joint or six… but Sam Bergquist ain’t a millionaire Canadian. Just a rare Boston talent whose decision to add that mini-electric guitar solo towards the end of this track makes me smile. Even as I type this review.
Ultimately, “Wiser Then” showcases an artist opening up to the process of growth in all directions, both in life and in craft. So give him a chance at obtaining your support. Robert Zimmerman needed it once too.