OFF THE RAILS (2008)

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From Storied New Mexico songwriter

"As with 2006's great SHADOW HORSES, Sampson proves himself an engaging songwriter with enough rubble in the throat to suggest shared DNA with Steve Earle and JJ Cale. If anything, his rolling delivery is more folk than country, double-tracking his languid burr next to spidery guitar and muffled beats. "Map Of America," its protagonist wistful for a less morally bankrupt age, ranks alongside the baleful best of Chris Smither. There's an outbreak of banjo that lifts "Long Twilight" into Appalachian territory, while "Brand New Diamond" is lovely sunny-side up picking." A hushed, understated record that repays attention."

Rob Hughes
UNCUT/UK
United Kingdom

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"Sampson's last two cd's DASHBOARD ANGEL and SHADOW HORSES are still fresh in my memory, because of their relaxed character. No complicated business, or overdone productions, just musical pleasure done with several musical friends.

This is how Sampson continues on OFF THE RAILS, only now he is playing solo in contrast with a band on his two previous productions. This sober approach does not mean loss of expression, as this artist is too much of a professional.

Sampson's music is very expressive, you almost feel yourself surrounded in his creations like the endless deserts, sand, heat and the long highways ---the landscapes of New Mexico and Tennessee where these songs were born.

Sampson is great in making atmospheric descriptions, not only in his music, but the photographs on his home page have the same character. These pictures connect perfectly with the intimate sound of OFF THE RAILS.

Sampson sings about the America of today, because on one side he's proud on his country and on the other side he's very confused by the abuse that he notices.

The title song "Off The Rails" is inspired by an old lady that he observed in the supermarket on a very limited budget trying to decide what items of vital importance she could buy. At the same time there is the link to the politicians who are responsible for this and one could ask the question:

Who is off the rails now?

I not only see a comparison with JJ Cale but also with James Talley, also living in New Mexico.

Talley's album "Road To Torreon" also combined the link between image, lyrics and sound but Don Michael Sampson has a more positive look on life, but with both eyes wide open.

Injustice he thinks is revolting and brings out honest tears which are heard in his complete work.

Mother earth, our world, is beautiful, but it isn't a paradise everywhere.

OFF THE RAILS tries to get a bit of this lost unadulterated nature back on the rails.

If you like sober acoustic music, then this 11th album by Don Michael Sampson is highly recommended."

Rein van den Berg
Belgium
www.rootsville.be

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"Because of the content of most of his songs on the new CD, he choose the 'do it yourself approach.' The artist takes care of all the instruments, voices and he even takes care of the production. Sampson criticizes his America in all aspects and father and son Bush are not spared in the soft rockin' opener "Rocking The Nation."

Also, the title track "Off the Rails" tells the distressing story of an old lady who in the Supermarket cannot make a choice between buying food and medicine while the American politicians ignore her plight.

But when there is life there is hope and this story is told in the acoustic ballad "Fields Of Faith" in which the people and the country ask not to give up hope but to keep believing in the future. All kinds of rootsy styles from folk, blues, americana bluegrass, banjo fingerpickin' style are present in these beautiful ballads in which love, religion and the admiration for the creation and nature are presented.

Extremely beautiful to me is "Beneath The Wheel" a folk/blues song with an extreme high JJ Cale feel in which Sampson demonstrates his skill on the dobro with a beautiful slide technique. OFF THE RAILS is the umpteenth album in a row from this great songwriter and musician who follows and criticizes the current affairs , but who also gets a lot of positive energy from love, the work of 'the man above' and nature.

Give them hope Don Michael and continue doing so!"

Bruno Depeyper
MAZZMUSIKAS
Belgium

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"Taos, New Mexico is the place of residence of Don Michael Sampson, a songsmith who earned his dues with writing, singing and recording country ballads, blues and folk songs. Another reviewer compares his 'singing style' with JJ Cale and that's also what I feel.

The content of his songs are about considerations and observations about what is happening in these hectic times and in our private lives, not only Americans, but the rest of the world.

In "Rocking The Nation" he is looking at the situation in the States under the George W. Bush administration. Don Michael admits to having started working on this song when Bush Senior was ruling, but now 17 years later during Bush Junior the situation has only become even worse.

But he still has a lot of 'patriotism' witness this in his song "Fourth of July" chronically a performance of local musicians during this National Holiday in a small Tennessee town.

OFF THE RAILS is the follow up to SHADOW HORSES, his tenth CD which got a great review from Rootstime. And OFF THE RAILS will also have a great review since it is as impressive as his previous work. I would say Don Michael Sampson is like wine --- he gets better by the years!

He does not get his inspiration in dark rooms, but by being active in the music.

"Fields of Faith" is a song in which he states how people can keep hoping for a better future by holding on to their belief in life and the creator.

"Shot By Shot" is a nice song that would have fit beautifully on Bruce Springsteen's NEBRASKA. As well as "Map Of America" in which a tragic story is told.

After this it gets more cheerful with the bluegrass inspired song "Brand New Diamond" and the lovely love song "You Mean Everything To Me."

The last song "It Feels Like Heaven" Don Michael Sampson sings about the big wonder of what this planet has to offer us and his wish that everyone will try hard to respect and save it for generations to come.

OFF THE RAILS is a CD which is not boring at any moment or in any song and you will be more than once amazed because by its simplicity and sincerity.

It is a positive look on the world and its promise for all people of good will."

Freddy Celis
ROOTSTIME
Belgium








SHADOW HORSES (2006)

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"Like a pepped-up JJ Cale, New Mexico songwriter Don Michael Sampson takes on rolling country ballads, blues and coffeehouse folk on 10th LP SHADOW HORSES. Aided by Neil Young staple Ben Keith and veteran pianist Larry Knechtel, the playing is superb, particularly the pounding Wild Horses Run.There's even the odd hairpin into rockabilly Black Kentucky Coal and a suitably wired tribute to his hero on Drive On Johnny Cash ."

Rob Hughes
UNCUT/UK

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"Like his photos, some-time lensman Sampson's songs have similarities in subject, energy and tone. His tenth album is less black and white than his earliest records and more country than gospel-blues predecessor DASHBOARD ANGEL. It features solid songs, from anti-Bush Broken Empty Stars to sturdy coffee house folk of Drive On Johnny Cash."

Sylvie Simmons
"Americana"
MOJO/UK


"Just saw Bruce Springsteen's concert where he pays homage to icon Pete Seeger and that's why I thought that the next music I played had to be of superb quality otherwise the good mood I'm in will be destroyed and yes God was with me, because after having listened the first time to Don Michael Sampson's newest CD, SHADOW HORSES, I was still in seventh heaven!

After a couple of solo projects, on which Sampson played all the instruments, he again decided to do another album with his old friends/musicians. These musicians were also on his previous release DASHBOARD ANGEL (2005).

SHADOW HORSES follows a similar pattern as his previous CD but appears less arranged. The concept however is the same with a mixture of rock songs and ballads with country and blues songs. It's a pleasure to listen to the ten songs, beginning with the great rocker Restless Train and closing with the easy rocking country song Dreaming Wine.

I don't know of anyone who can compose such beautiful ballads as Lonesome Blue Dove, and Black Harvest and also a blues song Alabama Blues and a great rockabilly song Black Kentucky Coal. All of which are on the right track.

One of the highlights, in my opinion is Wild Horses Run, a flamboyant rock song with a Bob Seger touch because of the wonderful piano playing of Larry Knechtal.

A guy who is able to have such incredible musicians on his CD ie. Warren Haynes, Michael Rhodes, Ben Keith and Barry 'Byrd' Burton must have status and yes Don Michael Sampson has had this for years!

Now it's getting time that more people should discover his music, because for me he is one of the great composers."

Bruno Depeyper
MAZZMUSIKAS
Belgium



"On his tenth album, one of our favorite singer-songwriters Don Michael Sampson is surrounded by a select group of musicians and has again written a collection of great songs in which personal and world issues are mixed together in a way nobody else can. The same things we liked about the CD's SUNSET RIDE (2003) and DASHBOARD ANGEL (2005). both of which received universal positive reviews, are all here on SHADOW HORSES. This is the third great album in a row, an almost impossible thing to do! The Taos, New Mexico singer-songwriter succeeds in a great way in doing this --- you just might say this is a great album! Don Michael Sampson also blends folk, blues and rock together and the end result is very tasty.

SHADOW HORSES relies on the clash of cultures and the relaxed voice of Sampson. Sometimes he reminds me of J.J.Cale, but musically this artist has more variety. On his previous album DASHBOARD ANGEL, the acoustic title track reminded us of J.J. Cale. On his latest album, Alabama Blues is the song that comes closest to this musical giant. Together with a great band including: Warren Haynes (lead guitar), Michael Rhodes (bass), Ben Keith (pedal steel), Chad Cromwell (drums) and Larry Knechtal (piano), Sampson keeps us glued to his lyrics for ten songs. Starting with the swampy roots opener Restless Train, the low key and poignant Lonesome Blue Dove, the swinging Early Morning Silver, and the rocking Wild Horses Run -- that's just the beginning -- all the rest of the songs are equally strong roots/pop tunes in the Americana vein.

The absolute highlight of the album is the great acoustic song Drive On Johnny Cash, --- a beautiful tribute to the Man In Black. You may call this a musicians' reunion with a great songwriter in the Low Lands. SHADOW HORSES is a great CD to be played on a porch with a good shot of whiskey!"

Freddy Celis
rootstime.be
Belgium


"Sampson, and this one is as his previous CD DASHBOARD ANGEL, a perfect Americana album. Accompanied by top musicians ie. Warren Haynes, Michael Rhodes, Chad Cromwell, Larry Knecthal and Ben Keith. Sampson as always connects all these beautiful songs together. The opening song "Restless Train" is one of these beautiful swampy roots and blues songs, with a guaranteed long 'storage life.' Also there are more country-blues, and Americana songs like "Lonesome Blue Dove," and "Alabama Blues", which is very close in feel to J.J. Cale and the soft swinging "Early Morning Silver." "Wild Horses Run," rocks nicely on and "Broken Empty Stars" which is more spoken then sung is full of atmosphere and don't forget the nicely rocking country song "Black Kentucky Coal," and the solo song "Drive on Johnny Cash," a beautiful mark of honor to the Man In Black and the gorgeous last song "Dreaming Wine," another grand Americana song. In essence we would recommend SHADOW HORSES as a better rootsy-songwriter album for lovers of this kind of music."

Benny Metten
ctrialcountry.be
Belgium


"Hardly a year after DASHBOARD ANGEL, Don Michael Sampson releases his new CD SHADOW HORSES." I strongly have the impression that this latest album is also coming from some of the same sessions as DASHBOARD ANGEL. All of the musicians on the CD have a great reputation ie. Ben Keith (Neil Young), Chad Cromwell (Mark Knopfler), Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers) and Michael Rhodes (one of the most respected bass players in the world). All friends (or perhaps neighbors - who's gonna tell!) and because of the music look for each others company, perhaps to jam with each other, drink a beer and think about the world that surrounds them. The joy of playing together strikes directly, relaxed and completely to my ears. Although it is released as a solo project, you feel immediately that this is a project in which more people are involved. Another thing that I found very clever are the expressive song titles ie "Lonesome Blue Dove," "Early Morning Silver," "Wild Horses Run," (with a beautiful piano eruption from Larry Knechtal), "Broken Empty Stars" (a very intense song about the drug problems that holds America in a strong grip, surely something to think about!), "Restless Train," is a Dylan-like song beautifully done in a 'walking rhythm,' and my personal favorite is "Black Harvest." All in all a damned colorful pallet, inclusive dark stripes on the horizon. I think it's time to enlarge my Don Michael Sampson collection."

de Volkskrant Blog
The Netherlands


"In 1978 Don Michael Sampson released his first LP AMERICANSONGS. In the last three years he has released three albums, SUNSET RIDE, DASHBOARD ANGEL and his latest SHADOW HORSES. Some of the musicians are the same as on DASHBOARD ANGEL ie Warren Haynes/guitar (Allman Brothers), Ben Keith/pedal steel (Nell Young),Chad Cromwell/drums (Mark Knopfler), Larry Knetchal/piano and Michael Rhodes/bass. You might say that this bunch of guys continue where they stopped on his last CD. Swamp, country, blues, soul and folk all blend together and produce a terrific mix. Beginning with the swinging Restless Train, 'till the last song, a calm and pleasant song Dreaming Wine. Ben Keith is great on pedal steel on Lonesome Blue Dove and the piano playing from Larry Knechtal is absolutely beautiful on Wild Horses Run. Sampson does some solo songs - Broken Empty Stars (a song about the meth problems in America), and Drive on Johnny Cash (tribute to Johnny Cash.). Sampson is the perfect blend of J.J. Cale and Tony Joe White."

Peter Pleyte
www.altcountry.nl
The Netherlands









DASHBOARD ANGEL (2005)


"THIS RECORD IS LIKE A LEGENDARY FAMILY REUNION AND TO MY OPINION IT CAN BE REGARDED AS A MILESTONE IN THIS SINGER-SONGWRITER'S MAGNIFICENT BODY OF WORK"


"The guy who gave us in the last few years the two disc set OLD WOOD BRIDGE (2001), BLACK FLOWER and POWDER BLUE SKIES (2002) and the superb SUNSET RIDE (2003) treats us now to DASHBOARD ANGEL. On the above mentioned albums Don Michael Sampson did all the 'playing,' but now the perfect song smith from Taos, New Mexico has called upon a bunch of friends and musicians who in the beginning of his career played an important role. Guitar player Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers ) was also present on COPPER MOON (1995), Ben Keith (dobro, pedal steel and known for his association with Neil Young) played on COYOTE (1983) and COPPER MOON, drummer Don Heffington and guitar player Frank Reckard (Emmylou Harris) played a leading part on the legendary debut album AMERICANSONGS (1978), as well as COYOTE (1983). Also we hear Michael Rhodes, (bass guitar) and Barry 'Byrd' Burton (Amazing Rhythm Aces), drummer Chad Cromwell and piano player Larry Knechtal, all who participated in earlier work of Don Michael Sampson's. This record is like a legendary family reunion and to me it can be regarded as a milestone in this singer-songwriter's magnificent oeuvre. All kinds of musical genres are present, the opening one "Rock and Roll Band" rocks like a beast and also has rockabilly influences, "Hard Luck Streak," is pure J.J. Cale, the fantastic ballad "Angels" already is for me a classical song, "Something's Wrong in the Wind," is pure blues, the threatening "Thunderstorm" with Warren and Larry in command is West Coast Music. The title song and the last song "Endless Song" Don Michael returns to the simplicity of his previous CD's. "Love Is The Righteous Flame," with the magnificent background vocals is country-gospel and so every song tells it's own story. If you still don't own the records of this artist we strongly advise you to go and get these albums, because this is a CD that will fit in everyone's collection. We strongly advise that you put this album on your wish list as it is mine for this year .... and as a bonus we can tell you that the first two obscure collector's items by Don Michael Sampson AMERICANSONGS and COYOTE are finally released as CD's.......why do you want to wait?????"

Bruno Depeyper
MAZZMUSIKAS FREE-ZINE/BELGIUM



"Real lovers of Rootsmusic know Don Michael Sampson very well. I discovered him only two years ago because of his previous album SUNSET RIDE (2003) and through his songs "Sunlight Kisses Burn the Chrome, "Shadow of the Blade, "Book of Sight," and "Sweet Darkness," which gives this relaxed J.J. Cale feeling. Sometime later I saw articles in several Roots Music Magazines and therefore I was very curious about his new record DASHBOARD ANGEL. So I listened with a kind of reservation. Well you can leave out the "reservation" because Don Michael Sampson makes steaming, pounding and strong music that makes you turn the volume higher and higher, right from the first track "Rock and Roll Band." The other nine songs vary from rock to acoustic music. Don Michael Sampson is not captured by any genre. You'll hear rock, blues, soul, country and most of the time his own unique sound ---' Don Michael Sampson mix.' I kept on playing this CD on and on. The rock songs "Angels" and "Thunderstorm" are much too short, these songs could go on for at least another half hour, so I pushed the repeat button. The more you listen to the songs, the more you realize how beautiful and delicate the songs are created, without losing any of their strength. A guitar accent is followed by a piano lick and underneath is another guitar lick asking for attention or just disrupting the whole melody line. Also the background singers!! Unbelievably beautiful!! And don't forget the very relaxed voice of Don Michael Sampson. If you go back in his past, you'll find out that he made his first appearance in 1978 and that he has made a bunch of great records. The thing is that he keeps surprising us and on his new CD DASHBOARD ANGEL he surprises me again with the acoustic title track "Dashboard Angel," a song that again reminds me of J.J. Cale's music. He has again a great backing band among them: Warren Haynes, Ben Keith, Don Heffington and Chad Cromwell. So I advise you to go to the music shop and listen to Don Michael Sampson on headphones. Probably after the second song you'll buy the CD. You also can go to his site and listen to some songs, but be prepared: A serious addiction could be the result!"

Freddy Celis
ROOTSTIME/BELGIUM


"DASHBOARD ANGEL is Don Michael Sampson's ninth CD. Every second of this new release, accompanied by great first class studio players has enabled Sampson to come up with another classic Americana CD, on which almost all styles of the genre is presented ie. folk, country, blues-gospel and rock which are melted to a "melange"(mix) . It would be easy to compare him to the greats of any artists in this genre but that would do him an injustice. Instead of trying to sound like anyone else he prefers to go his own way and looks for variation. No song sounds like another and every one of his road stories (which you have to look at through a cracked windshield) has it's own soul. On an acoustic ballad, or on a rolling blues-rocker, or on a country song with howling pedal steel, Sampson sounds as if he has discovered this genre. This is because of his own very special way of singing and the way he is able to get individual differences out of cliches. For roots rock fans this CD is surely recommended."

Ullrich Maurer
GAESTELISTE.DE INTERNET-MUSIKMAGAZIN/GERMANY


"Don Michael Sampson --- you will not find much about him on the worldwide web. His own website hardly gives much information and also the website of Allmusic Guide gives little information as well. This is a pity because the atmosphere on DASHBOARD ANGEL gives the impression that Sampson must have had a very interesting life so far...... DASHBOARD ANGEL releases a cocktail of rock, country, blues and soul which reminds me of Delbert McClinton. On this CD he is accompanied by some of the greats in the business: Ben Keith (pedal steel and percussion), Don Heffington (drums) and Warren Hayes (lead guitar for the Allman Brothers and Gov't Mule). Very impressive are the background singers. If you go to Allmusic and look up the names of Vicky Hampton, Clydene Jackson or Kim Fleming they encompass the history of American music since 1972. Especially songs like "Angels," and "Thunderstorm" they help turn into beautiful 'soul songs,' and that's why you can say, all these skilled players and singers make a great CD, called DASHBOARD ANGEL. And it is just a great CD on a long car ride!"

Hugo Vogel
www.altcountry.com/Netherlands


"I get the same feeling from listening to this album, as I got from T-Bone Burnett's "Truth Decay" for the first time. Genuine rock n' roll, with no fabrication as to what is hip for the moment, just a love of the music and the art of a good song. It doesn't matter if he rocks loud with a full band, or plays a mean gospel, like in "Thunderstorm," or sits alone with just voice, guitar and tambourine, like in "Dashboard Angel," it's a pleasure to be invited. And having pro's like Ben Keith, Larry Knechtel, Warren Haynes and Don Heffington playing on the album, doesn't hurt too much!"

Magnus Sundell
TROTS ALLT MAGAZINE/SWEDEN


"The opening song on the CD DASHBOARD ANGEL sets the right tone. In this tough rock and roll song, you imagine driving around in an Elvis outfit in a classic Thunderbird through the New Mexico landscape. Don Michael Sampson adds here a chapter to his self-willed oeuvre and is accompanied by buddies like Warren Haynes (guitar), Ben Keith (pedal Steel) and Chad Cromwell (drums). The CD has ten songs all of which are very fresh performances. The sounds vary from acoustic to rock, but are packed in a tasteful country idiom. The song "Thunderstorm" is beautiful and threatening with beautiful backing vocals (which you won't hear often these days). While the title song is 8 1/2 minutes! -- it is a fascinating introverted acoustic track like J.J. Cale complete with tambourine. An exemplary and spontaneous album with expressive material. The mountain of experience that is present has taken care of the right nuances, the connoisseur will be able to judge this."

Rein van den Berg
REAL ROOTS CAFE/NETHERLANDS


"Like a postcard from the American desert landscape: look at DASHBOARD ANGEL as a series of visions from a folk singer who fairly divides his inspiration between the beat of an urban rock n' roll band and the acoustic poetry of a lonesome troubadour. Don Michael Sampson isn't a newcomer, in fact DASHBOARD ANGEL is his ninth album, but without a doubt he's a proud independent songwriter who sometimes throws his mysterious smoke signals. On this new effort Sampson surrounds himself with masterful musicians like guitar-hero Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers), dobro and pedal steel player Ben Keith (Neil Young), Chad Cromwell and Don Heffington on drums; absolutely a terrific lineup. Anyway this ain't a stars parade; it seems Sampson welcomes them under his back porch to jam together. Everything here is home cooking, maybe rough but true, from soulful rock n roll "Rock n' Roll band," "Thunderstorm," to pure heartland rock "Angels," from seventy-driven "Love Is The Righteous Flame," to a couple of dark folk blues ballad "Something's Wrong In the Wind," and the title track."

Fabio Cerbone
www.rootshighway.com


"This is the latest offering from the great musical talent that is Don Michael Sampson, a guy that I first became aware of with his own original song 'Long Black Train.' (CRIMSON WINDS). One can detect various influences on the songs, all self-composed, but the thing that stands out is that all the music contained hereon is served up in an original manner that emphasizes the uniqueness of Don Michael Sampson. There is a veritable cornucopia of tempos ranging from the slap bass and tuneful biting lead guitar of the hard driving tempo 'Rock and Roll Band,' through the mid-tempo of 'Angels' a song that really builds, to the atmospheric acoustic and dobro fronted (from Ben Keith) 'Something's Wrong In The Wind.' The last mentioned is equal to anything that has come out of Austin. There is a whose who of musicians on 'Thunderstorm,' including Chad Cromwell (Mark Knopfler) on drums, Larry Knechtal (Duane Eddy) on piano and Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers) on guitar. This has a mean 'n' moody blues drenched vocal from Don on a song that reeks agony and pain in its forcefulness whereas 'Dashboard Angel' is Sampson on a solo performance with its own acoustic guitar backing, great country blues. 'Love Is The Righteous Flame' has the same backing musicians as the aforementioned 'Thunderstorm' and moves along nicely. It is to the credit of Don that this collection of performances never gets boring and stands up to repeated plays. This point is amply demonstrated in the love song, with a nice back beat. 'As Fine As You' which is followed by 'Slide And Roll With It All,' where we get back to first rate country rock, that Don NIx would have been proud of. This set of songs closes out with another Sampson solo acoustic effort, 'Endless Song' that is both melodic and relaxing. Overall, although we are still early in the year 2006, this is an almost perfect slab of what is currently classified as Americana. As for myself, I call it great music!"

Tony Wilkinson
United Kingdom




SUNSET RIDE (2003)


"Stark, often dark compulsive folk-Americana, inhabiting a Nebraskaesque universe, where death comes a knockin', roads are for moving on, and (in desperate, slapped blues Tenant In The House of Life) we've all got one hell of a tough landlord to deal with: God."

Sylvie Simmons
(Essential Americana)
MOJO/ UK


"....Sampson did it again, with a beautiful, sometimes very moving album.


We already compared this songwriter with no one less than J.J. Cale. The first song Sunlight Kisses Burn the Chrome reminded me of 'Traveling Light', on J.J. Cale's album 'Troubadour', but also songs like Shadow of the Blade, Book Of Sight and Sweet Darkness are written in the same relaxed atmosphere. The songs on SUNSET RIDE are about dishonest landlords (Tenant In the House of Life), heroin problems (Black Tar), Death (Building A Coffin) --- very melancholic, but always with a positive message and undertone. The album also has some beautiful love songs, road/car songs and nature songs (sunrise ...sunset).

He plays all the instruments -- piano, guitar, etc and we love his approach.
An addition to his beautiful oeuvre."


Bruno Depeyper
Rootstown Magazine, Belgium




OLD WOOD BRIDGE (2001)


"OLD WOOD BRIDGE is the strongest of the three solo albums released by prolific singer/songwriter Don Michael Sampson in early 2002, but only by a hair, as all of Sampson's releases, which can be filled with profound bits of understatement, have their own particular strengths. Recorded in a backwoods cabin in Tennessee, OLD WOOD BRIDGE contains 24 original songs that cover two discs, the more pragmatically themed of the two entitled 'Plow The Fields', the more spiritually inclined one 'Jesus On The Mainline.' The second contains song titles like 'Easy Healing Wind,' 'Devil's Curse,' and 'Sacred Song,' while on the first he sings of barbed wire and hammers and nails. 'U.S. Road' which is just shy of six minutes long, is an impressionistic highway account that recalls Bruce Springsteen's NEBRASKA. And 'Mockingbird Song' has a fluidity that is more a rule than an exception with Sampson's material, and that quality, one that can lend a sameness to less-accomplished efforts, here flourishes with repeated listening, which uncovers the nuances of expertly crafted riffs and chord progressions and intimate, seamless narratives."

Travis Drageset
All Music Guide.com


"Brilliant simplicity. It is hard to explain how beautifully this guy writes and sings his own songs. He is on the level, although not as well known as Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, and John Prine. He doesn't release that many records over the years and this one is on his own label, Red Horse Productions. I own CRIMSON WINDS (1988) and COPPER MOON (1995). Now in 2001, he surprises the world with a double CD.

OLD WOOD BRIDGE consists of two discs , with twenty-four songs all written by him. The recordings were made on a four-track recorder using just two microphones. These recordings must have been made when it was beautiful weather and the windows wide open, so that the smell and color of nature were free to come in. His deep dark voice sounds over the fields and gives his performance this magical power. All instruments are played by Don Michael, keyboards, guitars and drums.

The lay-out of the CD is very simple, handwriting by a child's hand, perhaps done by Don Michael's hand when the child was in him.

Beautiful songs, catchy melodies on a rippling rhythm. Most of the songs are about nature and country living, ie. 'Horses To Water,' 'Mountain Song,' 'Wild Dogs' 'Easy Healing Wind,' ' Rolling River,' 'Wild Roses In The Meadow Again,' 'Black Water,' 'Very Strange Rain,' 'Black Crow,' 'Mockingbird Song.'
Disc One describes the incredible power and beauty of nature. Disc two is an ode to the creator.

The rich voice of Don Michael Sampson has this hypnotic effect and forces one to listen.

Hans van Dam
"CD Tip"
Country Gazette, Netherlands


"When this very good, but unknown by the "general public" singer/songwriter phoned me to thank me for the article that I did on him in Rootstown "Hall Of Frame" he mentioned that he was writing songs for at least two new CDs. Several years later I got a call from my chief that Don Michael Sampson's CD finally was delivered in the mailbox. After listening to this masterpiece I was pleased that Sampson had released it on his own label --- Red Horse Productions and took care of the simple kind of layout of the CD.

OLD WOOD BRIDGE was recorded somewhere in the Tennessee country at the "Backwoods Shack Studio" on an old 4-track recording machine and two microphones. Don Michael also plays all the instruments (drums, keyboards, and all kinds of guitars) and also sings the harmony on several tracks.

This double CD hold two "concept discs," as the artist points out. One is the "Plow The Fields" disc on which you'll find Don Michael's songs describing the spirit of Mother Nature in all the rootsy facets, while the "Jesus On the Mainline" disc is somewhat more religious and is filled with more relaxed and intimate music. There are strong connections between the music of Don Michael Sampson and songwriting icons like John Prine and Bob Dylan. Everybody who is looking for a CD, which can compete with the best of the late Townes van Zandt, has to go and look for a copy of this as soon as possible, because what OLD WOOD BRIDGE offers belongs to the best I had to listen to this year. Thanks DMS, but please don't let me wait too long for the next CD."

Bruno Depeyper
Rootstown Magazine, Belguim



 
BLACK FLOWER (2001)


"Folk Troubadour Don Michael Sampson has been described by various reviewers as having a poet's eye, soul, and spirit. Here he pays tribute to some of the poets, both lyric and visual, who have inspired him: Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh among them. Like most of Sampson's work, it's full of subtle melodies, sparse guitar, and intimate story songs. BLACK FLOWER is second in a three-disc trilogy Sampson released in early 2002."


Travis Drageset
All Music Guide.com



"BLACK FLOWER is a concept CD, with songs about famous creative souls and geniuses (a tribute to poetry) with songs about painters like Gauguin (Mr. Gauguin), writers like Jack Kerouac (Come On Jack), Allen Ginsburg (Allen's song) and Vincent van Gogh (Crows in the Wheatfield) in which he tells in an original way how van Gogh died.

The souls of Dylan and J.J. Cale haunt through the rest of the songs. The song Troubadour (an odd combination of circumstances, because J.J. once recorded a beautiful LP with the same title) is a perfect example.

Don Michael plays, as on OLD WOOD BRIDGE, all instruments and the CD is released on his own label and only available through his website."

Bruno Depeyper
ROOTSTOWN, Belgium




POWDER BLUE SKIES (2001)


"POWDER BLUE SKIES was conceived in the Southwestern desert --- Taos, New Mexico to be exact -- and is best when listened to under a sky full of powder blue stars. Sampson's sound on this disc, his third solo release in six months, is slightly more immediate, the lyrics rawer. On "Spirit Song" he emulates the sound of a rattler with a pair of maracas and "Santa Fe Rose" features Spanish style guitar."

Travis Drageset
All Music Guide.com



"Acknowledged in the USA as a talented songwriter based on his previous albums (AMERICANSONGS, COYOTE, CRIMSON WINDS, COPPER MOON), compared time and time again to Neil Young and John Prine, praised for his country rock with members of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, appreciated for his celebration of the beauty and darkness of the American South "OLD WOOD BRIDGE" or his (Tribute) to poetry (Gauguin, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Dylan, Van Gogh) "BLACK FLOWER."

Don Michael Sampson comes to us with an intimate album inspired by his settling in Taos, New Mexico. The sound is soft, muted, recorded with no huge effects, just a man and his guitar. Don has a rootsy voice that conveys sincerity, melancholy and a free spirit that creates a familiar feeling. It goes from landscape ("Old Spanish Highway" "White Adobe Windows," prehension "Spirit Song," heartbreak "Santa Fe Rose," to the frontier reality with its echo of the attraction/repulsion between the US and Mexico "Borderline."

Pure Poetry (better understand English!) and a revelation which makes you want to hear his other CDs.

Keep an eye on him. To be continued ......."

Jacques Bremond
Editor
Le Cri du Coyote, France


"Don Michael Sampson is a stubble-voiced, storytelling American troubadour who stops along the way to make spare, engaging, one-man records. Two of his three albums in about as many months, POWDER BLUE SKIES and double Cd OLD WOOD BRIDGE, were recorded in a New Mexico adobe and a leaky cabin in Tennessee. The former is mostly spare country-folk with a dash of Mexicana, like eavesdropping on a hushed, private show. OLD WOOD BRIDGE, a little less minimalist, is equally packed with melodies -- folksy road-blues (U.S. Road), country (Mountain Song) and fine ballads (Devil's Curse)."

Sylvie Simmons
(Essential Americana)
MOJO/UK


"POWER BLUE SKIES is again a very intimate album on which Don Michael reveals his spiritual life, after having moved to Taos, New Mexico.

This is a real singer/songwriter album without spectacular effects, only one man and his guitar in the middle of this beautiful nature of the 'borderline area' (Mexico-US). Nature on this album plays a major role, look at the titles( Old Spanish Highway, Wide Open Plains, Powder Blue Skies, Bird Song,) and you'll understand why.

Also the love/hate relation between the USA and Mexico is a dominant presence ie. Borderline, Sound Of Spanish Voices ...), also is the love of the Indians, the original inhabitants of this area and is addressed in the beautiful Spirit Song.

In short, both BLACK FLOWER and POWDER BLUE SKIES are of inexpressible beauty and are of great class and show the love for his profession and for fellow artists.

He also recently did a wonderful one-song cud OUT AMONG THE STARS which he wrote to honor his deceased friend Waylon Jennings. It also comes with a beautiful artistic print. So make your mind up fast to order this cd since it is a very limited edition and only available through his website."

Bruno Depeyper
ROOTSTOWN, Belgium



 
COPPER MOON  (1995)


"I want to point the music lover towards a product of absolute quality that needs no fear of comparison with the most important singer/songwriter products of 1995.

Trust .... a truly serious thing. For my part I remember that I trusted Sampson immediately, when I bought his first two records AMERICANSONGS and COYOTE in the United States directly after their release --- these are also two great records. What genre is he, whom does he resemble? Simple questions, but difficult to answer. He writes songs, he sings them one after another in a linear fashion, with a stentorian voice, supported by an exact and refined instrumentation, simple and classic, based on acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums.At times something different is added to the mix, or the rhythm section disappears, as in several songs on this COPPER MOON album. Thats all? Well, any Simple Simon can do that, someone might object. Thats just it. When a true artist does it, the result can be a masterpiece! Now Don Michael Sampson, he's a true artist, as God is my witness: a great singer/songwriter -- one whose backpack is loaded with substance --- and I assure you that his records are an absolute priority for the demanding listener. Dry and decisive musicality that unwinds sinuously, enchanting, in a folk/rock context of absolute quality. Everything is reduced to essentials: nice sound with only a few instruments, big, very big impact beyond a doubt. Don Michael Sampson does not have a great voice, but he has 'that' voice ... the voice of someone who has wandered in the desert, of someone who has lost his belongings, of someone who suffers. As a guitarist, he does what he has to, and it's fine like that. At times it seems to me almost as if you could think of Sampson as a possible evolution (dimensionally parallel but inevitably differentiated) of ...well, John Prine, for that way of doing country rock and folk rock so offhandedly that it does'nt even seem to be that any more. Listen to the first song on COPPER MOON (Three White Horses) and judge for yourself. This is also the first of six instrumental pieces, with Ben Keith on steel, slide and tambourine. Warren Haynes on electric (lead and slide), Michael Rhodes or Dave Pomeroy on bass. Chad Cromwell or Craig Krampf on drums. On two occasions you also hear Larry Knechtal's piano. Sampson plays acoustic (Martin, Gibson) and also the twelve-string. There is sadness in the grooves of this disk, at times desperation; always there's something magic, something bewitching. I should list the songs at this point: listen, they are all beautiful. I would not know how to choose. An indispensable album, which you really can't do without ... it is still hard for me to realize that it really exists."

Renato Bottani
Out of Time Magazine/Milan, Italy



"This is the fourth album release by one of America's closest guarded secrets, the unique talent known as Don Michael Sampson. Judging from his recordings, his influences range from the Johnny Burnette Rock n Roll Trio through to Neil Young and thrown into the melting pot for good measure are his own smoky tinged vocals, all in all a potent mixture which deserves to be heard by audiences who appreciate true artistry. 1995 sees the issue of his latest offering COPPER MOON. This is a veritable potpourri of compositions, tempos and themes but all bearing a personal identification. Sleeping Dogs is a song cut at the first take with a strong blues influence, mean and moody vocals and lyrics full of apprehension. Three White Horses and Blue are good honky tonk shuffles which leave the listener feeling happy in the first instance and with mixed emotions in the latter case. 61 Road has a Richie Valens chugging style guitar and Black Tambourine is an atmospheric song with a crying guitar. Both paint a portrait of a guy on a stage in a corner of a smoke filled bar pouring his heart out in song. Red Bird In The Rain has full backing from the likes of Larry Knechtal, Ben Keith, Dave Pomeroy and Craig Kramph and is just a plain old beautiful song. Acoustic offerings include Dark Horse Rider, Strongest of Stars, Lonesome Ace and All There is To Know which all have meaningful lyrics demanding to be listened to. Thieves has a degree of improvisation evident (and how many classic songs have come about in this manner) and Long Time Ago has a strong gospel feel. Both songs evoke a picture of life in the Southern backwoods. This is certainly one of the better offerings of 1995 and is well worth seeking out."

Tony Wilkinson
freelance music critic/UK



"This record is the surprise of the year in the group made of nocturnal songs of the wish and loners with unquiet blood. The songs play and I listen carefully breathing in a Nebraska haze, a rough Southern sound and moonlight made ballads. Formerly from California this poet/artist has for the most part been unjustly overlooked for his prior albums AMERICANSONGS, COYOTE and the more recent CRIMSON WINDS. Lets hope this magnificent and shadowy COPPER MOON can repay Don Michael Sampson, songwriter of quality and experience and shining poetry. The presence of an itchy slide like that of Warren Hayes (Government Mule) tell a lot about the swampy atmosphere of the tracks. Sampson exhibits his guitars, mainly acoustic and extracts from them seducing sounds with a suffering and autumn voice, made of sorrowful intimacy. All songs have been written by him, many recorded at his home. These songs are enlightened by bright light and sad like the day overwhelmed by shadows. But the dark zones are a leit-motiv of this record, mind you. The introspection of Strongest of Stars, the rough blues of 61 Road ....hard and full of bloodlines at the surface and whispered between teeth on the dull and original wires of a 30's guitar (he brought for $5 in the California desert). And the smoky Thieves coming from an acoustic guitar with a slide reigning alone in winding lines. Guitars, like old wine --- let's enjoy, if an old guitar gives us a magnificent Red Bird In The Rain. Lonesome Ace bent in melancholy, is the clearest water of the record -- my favorite, and Warren Haynes solos that rave in the electric Sleeping Dogs, the airy rhythm of Three White Horses valuable country to be played in a Chevrolet driving along the plains. Blue intrigues me, written in a moment of sadness and dedicated to a dog ---one of the same name, like mine, who died some years ago, always in my mind (pardon my sentimentality). Don Michael Sampson is a true craftsman, working by himself, in the silence of his room, while the dark night stands still hearing. Sincere to the bone, essential in the magic of his singing. Easy owner of one of the records on the year."

Francesco Caltagirone
Buscadero/Italy



"Don Michael Sampson has his own unique style, very distant from the so called Nashville sound. He sounds more like Neil Young or Johnny Burnette. His ballads radiate a melancholy, very much like the songs of Leonard Cohen. He creates an atmosphere of a troubadour traveling the world, with a guitar on his back. His lyrics give you this abstract, mysterious unreachable feeling. This CD is a Groeiplaat --- which means the more you listen to the songs the better they get."

Hans van Dam
Country Gazette/Netherlands



"Although he's a country lad at heart, Sampson skirts through troubadour folk country, tangles heavily with blues and even dabbles in a spot of near-space rock, showing off influences that include Neil Young, Johnny Burnette and Townes van Zandt. His sound is a varied combination that relies heavily on word play and atmospheric background strummings to create moods that sweep over the listener like moisture-heavy clouds."


Jim Driver
Country Music International/UK



 
CRIMSON WINDS  (1988)


"A real find this: country-cum-rock not so much in the new Country vein as it is in the singer/songwriter sort which yielded greats like Prine and Stewart. Intense lyrics, great musicianship --- the Long Ryders for adults."

Performance and Recording Rating: (A-1)

Ken Kessler
Hi-Fi News and Record Review/UK



"Sampson is first and foremost a serious songwriter whose philosophical tales of life and loneliness are one of the rewarding aspects of CRIMSON WINDS. The fact that he is a gifted lyricist, whose straightforward songs create strong moods and images, has led to the obvious comparisons to John Hiatt, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine. And like these gifted writers, Sampson enlists a group of topnotch sidemen to guarantee that his lyrical visions get the treatment they deserved, the most notable of whom is Barry Byrd Burton of the Amazing Rhythm Aces on lead guitar. The production is strong and overall the sound quality of this disc is good. From the country twang of Cherokee River to the hard edged rock of Long Black Train, Don Michael Sampson is a promising artist and CRIMSON WINDS is a pleasant listening experience."

Sheryl Hunter
Rock and Roll Disc



"This is a fine album by this California based singer/songwriter. The ten songs are all written by Sampson and are particularly strong on imagery. Heart Pumping Like Thunder gets things off to a driving start and leads into the long and emotive Lone Wolf with Byrds guitar stalking Sampson's gritty vocals. It is on the rockier numbers like Long Black Train and Six String Healing Wheel that things really cook. A solid album, well produced and nicely packaged by Red Horse Productions, that helps to consolidate Don Michael Sampson's position as a singer/songwriter of note."

Mike Gibb
Manana Magazine/UK



"Sampson is best suited, it seems, for mid to slow-tempo burners such as Lone Wolf and Long Black Train ...on these two tracks Sampson achieves a lasting memorable intensity. His band serves him well throughout the disc, especially in the cases of guitarist Barry Byrd Burton and backup vocalists Donna McElroy and Vicki Hampton. The sonics are clear, full and impressively balanced. If Sampson could consistently match the quality of Lone Wolf he'd be golden!"

Larry Canale
CD Review



"...songs that testify to the strength and spiritual perseverance of the heart. Each of his songs is a palpable exploration of the power, redemption and freedom of the soul."

"...an enriching chronicle of an artist."

Alanna Nash
Stereo Review



"Sampson has a poets eye for detail and a story tellers feel for drama. Among these ten original compositions, Heart Pumping Like Thunder, Long Black Train and Six String Healing Wheel."

Billboard



"If you stretch your imagination far enough, you'll be able to regard Don Michael Sampson as a country artist. But his husky, whispered style has more in common with musical renegades such as John Prine, Lee Clayton and Townes Van Zandt. CRIMSON WINDS is Sampson's third album, and its a rough-hewn affair that exudes a great deal of charm. The album was recorded on the run with a small budget, for an independent label; thats a good thing in this case for although it has country rock sensibilities, Sampson's music doesn't adhere to the regional country music traditions of Texas, Tennessee or California. Its more accurate to describe Sampson as a modern day American troubadour poet, who is ably assisted by such illustrious musicians as guitarist Barry Byrd Burton (ex Amazing Rhythm Aces), Jay Spell on keyboards, Clyde Brooks on drums, and Nashville session mainman Michael Rhodes on bass."

B.J. Cole
New Hi-Fi Sound/UK



"His rich lyrical tales are underscored by some tight instrumental work from a stellar band that includes one time Amazing Rhythm Aces guitarist Barry Burton. The seven-minute Lone Wolf is a standout that features strong vocals from Sampson and some blistering guitar work. Fighter has hints of Dire Straits."

Mick Skidmore
Relix Magazine



"Sampson is a writer of image-rich songs that usually take on mythic proportions. Youll hear traces of John Prine, the Grateful Dead, Dire Straits and the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings in the album that overall is...strong."

Brian Mansfield
Nashville Scene



"Don Michael Sampson's music occupies territory hovering around the country rock side of Waylon Jennings, incorporating outlaw sounds and shades of Townes Van Zandt and John Prine. Good ole boys out there should check out the high meat content of CRIMSON WINDS, the relishing guitar work of Byrd Burton and assorted Nashville whizkids."

Folk Roots/UK



"CRIMSON WINDS is one of the best country rock albums we've ever heard and we hope to hear a great deal of him in the future. It's just great."

Radio R-35/Norway



 
COYOTE  (1983)


"One of the best things about being a reviewer is that occasionally an album on a small or privately owned label comes along that features a little-known performer with the potential to become a major artist.

Such is the case with Don Michael Sampson, a California-based singer/songwriter, and COYOTE is his second self-produced, self-marketed album.While most of Nashville is scurrying to find the hottest crossover tune, or locate a studio with enough tracks to accommodate the 65,000 strings that producers like to put behind lonesome pickers these days. Sampson is doing his best to retain the crisp folk side of progressive country music.

Several reviewers have likened Sampson's style to the outlaw approach of Waylon Jennings, and careful listeners will hear traces of Dylan, Kristofferson and Prine in his work. Sampson says he hopes COYOTE has a sense of timelessness to it in the tradition of Gram Parsons's GRIEVOUS ANGEL or Neil Young's HARVEST.

Those are pretty big overalls to fill, but Sampson --- more of a songwriter than a singer -- is a considerable talent, one capable of crafting haunting and highly literate songs, sometimes, as in Thief In Mexico, about little more than thought and mood. Most of the time however, he writes about love and life on the road, always with the lyrical sweep of a hippiefied John Donne as in the chorus from Love Is Like A Wheel.

Doubtless, part of the strength of Coyote derives from Sampson's choice of sideman, including three members of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band --- the supremely gifted Frank Reckard on guitar, Don Heffington on drums, and Wayne Goodwin on fiddle --- and Ben Keith, who's worked with Neil Young for the past ten years on pedal steel and dobro. Players such as these make most session musicians sound like play-by-number oafs. Heffington is particularly brilliant on Thief In Mexico, and Reckard's acoustic Spanish-style solo on Way Of A Rose, is beautiful beyond words. COYOTE is a lovely album, a reflection of a poets soul."

Alanna Nash
'Best of The Month'
Stereo Review



"Sampson is an inspired writer --- all of the songs are his --- and a moving performer. Members of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band provide stellar backing. The lonely lyricism sounds country, but the energy is rock."

Billboard



"He has much to be proud of the LP contains memorable lyric passages as well as exceptional picking. Thief In Mexico and Way Of A Rose evoke Sampson's Mexican sojourn. Fine Wine love and Love Is Like A Wheel and potential hit You Are The One are as inspiring as any truly great love song ever composed. These are uncommonly sincere, strikingly literate, deeply haunting songs."

Robert K. Oermann
The Tennessean



"One of the best records, the writer of this article has heard lately. Sampson is one of the most talented singer/songwriters of the last years ...every song is a true delight to listen to. Most beautiful, sometimes poetic lyrics played by some excellent musicians."

Hans van Drunen
Country Gazette/Netherlands



"Sampson wrote all the tracks and produced the album as well, so he's one heck of a talented fellow. A song has to be good to hold my attention for over five minutes, and Fine Wine Love does that with some tasty steel by Ben Keith and a heavy rhythm section. Nearly all the tracks are excellent."

Bob Powell
Country Music People/UK



"The southern California 'kitchen' hasn't been able to eliminate or de-fuse one of its' last outlaws. Don Michael Sampson has been able to successfully resist falling into the pablum. He lives --- and how!

True, his arrangements are softer, the lyrics sweeter, the music more fluid. But the basic feeling remains --- the Jack Kerouac's on the road yearning, the secret --- hidden love and impressions from the abysses of American society. Without question I'm nominating COYOTE for my personal grammy."

Hans-Hermann Pohle
Taxim Magazine/Germany



 
AMERICANSONGS  (1978)


"Sampson's first LP lyrically evokes images of the history and road life of America ...Frank Reckhard, Emmylou Harris' sideman, provides solid accompaniment with electric, acoustic, lap steel and bottleneck guitars. AMERICANSONGS portends a fine musical future for Don Michael Sampson."

Jas Obrecht
Guitar Player



"A forthright, serene set of neo-country rock."

Ken Tucker
Los Angeles Herald Examiner



"Sampson is unquestionably a very talented songwriter. The twelve original tunes of AMERICANSONGS are ...spirited, memorable and highly literate country songs that show their author to be one of the more insightful writers in the genre I've heard recently. A very strong set of song."


Blair Jackson
Bay Area Music Magazine



"Sampson comes in here because he's good...Reckhard's work on various instruments (he's David Lindley to Sampson's Jackson Browne) is very good, frequently dazzling ... the sound engineering is likewise excellent. In short, this album is better than most of what's being put out, and Sampson's a talent worth encouraging and watching closely."

Todd Everett
Record Review/Los Angels



"Sampson has a good voice and obvious writing talent ...He sounds much like John Prine in many of the tunes ...other times he resembles Jackson Browne ... the songs are fine pieces of work and pleasant to listen to."

Pat MacDonald
Seattle Times



"This Record has the outlaw feel of a Waylon Jennings LP and there's a few outstanding songs to be listened to ...country that rocks."

Record Boy
Pro Fun/Los Angeles



"Sampson is a gifted songwriter/singer in the mold of Dylan, Prine and Kristofferson --- honest and forthright in the country colors."

Jack Burke
Wax Works


"Sampson has native songwriting intelligence ...and the recording is exceptionally clean."

Noel Coppage
Stereo Review



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