Sam Green and the Time Machine
Several iconic names from the singer/songwriter school of popular music will occur to you after hearing Sam Green and the Time Machine for the first time. Longtime fans of this Australian songwriter, musician, and singer will be well aware he is a stylistic polymath, but music devotees encountering his music for the first time will be impressed by his mastery of multiple genres. He moves back and forth from various strands of folk as well as blues and classic country. Some of the material incorporates a full band, some does not. His prolific pen has written eleven albums worth of material between the years 2013 through 2018 along with a couple of singles without any noticeable drop off in quality. Some artists or bands struggle to produce even a single album’s worth of memorable songcraft.
Diving into his discography via Spotify is a breathtaking journey. He doesn’t fall into the stereotype of the Dylan-ish singer/songwriter with requisite acoustic guitar and harmonica holder in tow. There’s no question, however, that there’s ample poetry threaded through much of his work. His most popular Spotify selections bear this out. “For the Ocean” from his 2013 collection I Think It’s About Time has a confident and striding pace but never threatens to overwhelm the listener. It features some of his best lines and has the virtue, like many Green songs, of being fully thought out rather than half formed or sounding like a hodgepodge of ideas.
The swirling musicality of the song “Carmella” from 2013’s Players All Are We will please many. The staccato bursts of accordion give the song added buoyancy, a little uplift, but the vocals have an odd diffuse effect despite his clear commitment to the performance. It’s a solid track nonetheless. He is unafraid to write about any subject. His connection and concern for the natural world comes across in cuts such as “Sperm Whale” and you can’t help but applaud his talent for writing about it in such a direct way. The eloquent acoustic lead guitar throughout this has an elegance all players should aspire to.
Green and his musical partners weave a spell during “Albert and Bob”. This track from 2018’s Ten Parts of the Journey utilizes organ and electric guitar to support one of Green’s sharpest lyrics. His storytelling talents are undeniable but never overstated; everything works in sympathy with each other rather than one element dominating the performance. The indefatigable heart beating loud within “Broken Hill” makes for one of his most effective performances. It is beyond a doubt that this is a track from 2018’s Baked Beans (432 Hertz) steeped in a traditional folk song aesthetic and many will appreciate its soft shine.
Sam Green and the Time Machine have proven they have the vehicle and necessary chops to earn posterity’s approval. These are albums written and designed to endure. His prodigious creativity has blossomed in a way no one could anticipate and he proves to all of us, if we need proof, that great musicians remain in the world devoted to the idea of writing important songs.