SAM BURTON "Until Returning" (Chthonic Records)

Burton's own Bandcamp page tags his style as alternative but to my ancient ears this is singer-songwriter. Think Tim Buckley and Nick Drake. I must confess I'm not the first reviewer to peg him in that light. Another threw in Leonard Cohen. All great references in any event.

The tape offers ten selections-if you count the brief "Prelude" that welcomes the listener. None of the songs drag on and are swift and direct in their subtleness. His voice, while not outstanding, is more than adequate for these songs. He is accompanied by acoustic guitar and makes the most of the sparseness of the arrangements.

The meat here is the songwriting which is outstanding. Burton uses just enough familiarity to hook you in while vocally flowing over the edges of the melody. There is not a mediocre song in the bunch and stylistically he keeps it interesting enough given the variation of each track.

While there are ten tracks, they are short and hence this is an e.p. worth of Burton. Available only on tape, as it was recorded, this is a talent to reckon with. Sam Burton is my favorite singer-songwriter thus far in 2016- and the year is nearly over. Get this my all means.

-- Bob Zilli