Every now and again an artist comes along that seems to offer something that’s a little bit special and alternative from what exactly is the flavour of the time. The most recent of these that I have heard is the debut album by English singer/songwriter Sam Fender, Hypersonic Missiles.
This is a fantastic collection of songs, but the track that stood out to me from the very first listen is The Borders, which was released as the seventh single from the album in September 2019.
The first thing that attracted me to this song was the fantastic lead guitar performed by Fender that helps to set the emphatic and dramatic tone that runs throughout the song from start to finish. There is resemblances to an early Bruce Springsteen as Fender confidently addresses the listen with powerful vocals, with occasional flourishes of vibrato throughout the song. Throughout the track, the instrumentation is clever and accomplished and the injection of saxophone solos helps to further build the sound around the track, and again helps to develop the idea of a Springsteen-esqe effect to the music. It is impossible to not be impressed or intrigued by the maturity of the sound.
As with all quality songwriting, there is also a strong sense of Sam Fender being an interesting and accomplished storyteller to be found across the album, with songs like Dead Boys being standout features of the album.
This sense of interesting narrative can be found on the song The Borders as well. Throughout the song, Fender tells us stories about a dysfunctional upbringing that references drug addiction, domestic abuse, and the complicated relationships that we can often have with the people closest to us.
The opening verse introduce the listener to the turbulent relationship that the protagonist of the song has with their friend. The audience is left in no doubt as to why the upbringing was far from perfect, with outright references to domestic violence and threats to keep what they know secret from everyone else.
“We were afraid of your mother
Hell, she used to hit you so hard
And your dad took off when you were a baby
You pin me to the ground
Eight years old with a replica gun pushin’ in my skull
Saying you’re gonna kill me if I tell
Never did, and I never will
That house was living hell”
This helps to demonstrate the powerful nature of the songwriting, as we are immediately familiar with the scenarios and life of our protagonists. Fender continues to grow the story as the song progresses and the relationship between the two boys complicates as they get older and life becomes a bit more volatile.
“Heard you glassed a boy back in the borders
Some naughty family boys are after you
You pinned me to the wall and said my mother
Stole your inheritance from you, oh yeah?”
There is so to enjoy and be excited about when you are talking about the music of Sam Fender and his ability to create stories and adventures with his writing that can resonate with the listener is one of the main factors. The Borders is only the beginning of the talented Tyneside performing exploring his sound. This’ll be fun.