Photo credit: Claire Diana Photography
Some of you know about Sam Burchfield because you saw him on TV. Others of you know his name because we’ve featured him here before. But no matter how you’ve gained an acquaintance with this guy, I can almost guarantee you love his music. In a bit of a slanted comparison, my feelings toward Sam Burchfield were like the ones I had about Amos Lee when he broke through to the mainstream. The song that reminded me of what a talented artist he is was the recent hit “Strawberry Blonde,” a wonderful song about his wife, talented artist Pip the Pansy. Here’s Burchfield’s abbreviated story with a bit more about that song specifically.
Burchfield grew up in South Carolina as a self-described “normal white dude” with parents who listen to classic rock. He really credits his older sister for influencing him with crazier music of more of a hippie variety. The balance of that music mix along with performing guitar in orchestra music helped to give him a lifetime addiction for music. That evolution moved him toward artists that will resonate with most of on this site like Damien Rice and Ray Lamontagne. These, consequently, are the artists the we often hear in Sam’s original music today.
Of course, like so many, Burchfield was in a “shitty garage band” in middle school before spending time in high school exploring his own sound. Through considerable trial and error, he began to find himself as a person and an artist. He breaks his influences into a few different categories. One part of him appreciates classic guitarists like Van Halen and Steve Vai when he was young, but now he’s moved more toward an appreciation for Stevie Wonder, the Bahamas, Emily King, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald. These classic artists are part of what shape Burchfield’s mass appeal; he’s able to tap into the things that are universally interesting and moving.
If you’ve listened to a few different albums from Burchfield, you’ll notice that his sound is evolving a bit here lately, especially on “Strawberry Blonde.” I had to ask about that. There are some technical differences in how he’s recording his more recent sound, but mostly he’s spent time honing in on finding his own raw voice and emotion. “Strawberry Blonde’ is more emotionally raw,” he explained, “it’s just me with a baritone guitar. I work to get in the emotional headspace to find the right performance.” I think I can speak for fans to say that Burchfield was successful on that front!
I asked about the story behind that track. Burchfield told me that it was about his now wife on their engagement trip. He really wanted to reflect the emotion he had toward her and tried to capture that in the recording. This development, though, has helped to really shape his solo sound. The band that he has formed now is one that is talented and “inspires me to write for them.” So Burchfield has plenty of inspirational folks in his corner, motivating him to make more music.
In addition to his specific songs, including the infectiously enjoyable “Accidentally Cute,” Burchfield and I spent considerable time talking about the music industry. We discussed that most of the power brokers in the industry do not care about an artist being “good,” necessarily, as long as they can be profitable. But, it was not a sad or complaining conversation; we talked about how indie artists have more opportunity now than ever in the industry.
If I convey nothing else about Sam Burchfield, I want you to know that he is the real deal. He is an artist’s artist. From an early age he has always loved writing songs, crafting things, and painting with music. That craftsman’s mentality is informing his upcoming promotional tour for his music. He wants to encourage his fans, “there is more music on the way!” This new model is one that means he records when he can, writing always, and seeking to craft things and sing for people.
Try to get out and see Sam Burchfield perform. He’s so much more than a “former American Idol contestant” and I genuinely hope that he can make a living in this industry for many years. Have you told a friend about Sam Burchfield lately? I have to say, not only was he a super chill interview, he came across as the kind of “common people’s artist” that you could get a drink with after a show and just chill. Burchfield’s soulful yet relatable is timeless and moving.