Sam Dickinson – The Stories That Occurred – Review

Ryan Auberson-Walsh
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Are you one to sing in the shower at a pitch that would scare off feral cats close by? Do you enjoy dancing to brass bands in your underwear, just ‘cause?

It’s not often someone might admit they have a specific genre that gets them in the mood for cooking in the kitchen, cleaning out the cupboards or washing down the wagon in their birthday suit, but this man’s skill with soul is a real treat. And it’s best served with a glass of chardy and a cheese platter consisting of Gouda, Edam and blue vein. Wait, scratch the blue vein. Nobody enjoys the aftertaste and desperate search for chewing gum.

A cross between the sexy sounds of Freddie Mercury and the leading lad of a 90s prom band, a-la 10 Things I Hate About You, Newcastle-born Sam Dickinson is everything that local media in the North East have come to praise about him.

With compliments on his “powerful vocals” from Metro Radio and The Crack Magazine offering up a hint that he’s “about to take the soul world by storm”, Dickinson’s debut album, The Stories That Occurred, is quirky to say the least.

There are clear references to Motown with his instrumental choices. It’s something that would make the likes of Marvin Gaye or The Supremes very happy to hear.

Personal favourites ‘Our Day’ and ‘When You Left Me’ tell a lot about this man’s journey as a singer and performer. The album’s title itself encapsulates the story of how he came to be where he’s currently at, with a conviction that only a battling musician could illustrate. These tracks are at opposite ends of the soul spectrum. ‘Our Day’ engages you through its whispered words and echoing guitar strings, whereas the latter-mentioned track, ‘When You Left Me’, is both vivacious and moody.

This is a talent and range that the world thought only Meryl Streep could emote onscreen in one of her Academy Award-nominated epics. Listen close and you hear a hint of Meat Loaf’s Rocky Horror Picture Show vocality. This is appropriate, considering that, according to his online biography, his album was produced by a person who worked with Bonnie Tyler and Meat Loaf himself.

For Dickinson though, his biography also states that his “first foray into the public eye was his show stopping performance at Northern Pride 2009”. This vibrant young man has since managed to breathe a lot of colour into the world, performing alongside recognisable acts such as Basshunter, Kelis, Nicki French and Amanda Wilson of the Freemasons.

More significantly still, he has devoted much of his time to raising awareness for cancer through performance. This is the reason that ‘Lift Your Head’ will strike a deep, soul-filled chord with many. It’s a moving track about the disease that affects many around the world.

On a lighter note, it’s worth highlighting his successes on the WWWW – that’s Wonderful World Wide Web for those who might not be so technology-loving. Having charted on YouTube’s top 40, he’ll be heading out of town and around the UK on tour, supporting a different charity at each show.

For anyone still unconvinced that ‘soul’ is even worth considering a form of music post-20th Century, just remember the last time you heard a live band at the pub and wondered why they were (potentially) quite shit. It’s because some people out there who’ve got talent are overlooked. Don’t make that mistake. Think about a seaside festival picnic and dancing along to Dickinson. Surely that’s something worth grooving in the grass to.

And for Pete’s sake (honestly, where the fuck is this expression from?), can someone just offer this wonderful British boy a gig on a late show in London, already? He’d be absolutely perfect belting out a tune behind Graham Norton’s famous head.

After all, The Link looks to be on the money – “The young man with the big voice looks to be going places quickly.”

His album and tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased on his website.

‘Learn to Wait’ – Sam Dickinson

About Ryan Auberson-Walsh

Ryan Auberson-Walsh is a sassy Sydneysider who enjoys cocktails and writing from opinion. A student at the University of Technology, Sydney, he was the 2013 editor-in-chief of annual Querelle, and has previously interned at and Australian Traveller. His work has also been published in Cream and Vertigo. @ryanaubiee on Twitter & Instagram.