Rae Sam - The Great Escape

Buckle & Boots always throws up someone who has not crossed our path before and one who certainly made an instant impression was Rae Sam. Blessed with an infectious enthusiasm and a beautifully packaged CD, that had been released earlier in the year, the journey time between B&B and our hotel proved the ideal time to get a chance to listen to it properly and it was time well invested.

A quick scan of the sleeve notes shows that Rae had a hand in writing all of the 12 songs and she is obviously surrounded by a team who are able to bring them to fruition as fully rounded songs. It is something of a showcase album, the front half much poppier, occasionally the production is a little too keyboard heavy, while the second half contains some quite diverse material that is far more attention grabbing.

The one constant is Rae's voice, which is strong throughout, regardless of which style the song is in, at times prominently and proudly displaying her Welsh origins.

As the opening track "The Great Escape" begins with its bright pop intro you may think that you know where this album is going, but leave your preconceptions at the door for you don't!! even this title track still has plenty to deliver!!

"Every day just the same colour of grey - no beauty I could see

Then you came, took away, all of my pain, your love set me free"

The transition between monochrome and colour and the sheer happiness and freedom given by the new relationship is summed up by the final line of the chorus "I'm dancing again" or in the line "I can finally shine"

It is undoubtedly slick and soulful, possibly a little too slick in places and then about 2 minutes in it takes a little musical diversion, during which Rae declares

"Nothing's going to hold me back",

All in all a great little introduction to the album although it does not hint at the magic to come.

"Shot Down" has a slightly grungier opening, with Rae repeatedly announcing the title early. It proves to be something of a self motivation song fighting against others doubt, that sees Rae starting the song innocently enough

"Sat there on the bus seat - watching the world pass by" when some sort of discouraging, disparaging incident occurs. From there on in the song is a determined shout to grab every opportunity and a reminder not to give up

"Don't you ever pull that trigger - don't blow your dreams away - don't give up today!" it leads to the desire that things can and will change

"Hope and pray it's time your dreams come alive today"

There is then an ongoing battle between those "words that were sown that could kill your field of dreams" and the eternal optimism and reminder in the chorus which acts as a kick ass reminder!.

The production once again is all out, there's a full on brass section employed to bring this dream to life!

"Keep Running" takes us into modern country territory unfortunately with a robotic synthesised drum that fortunately fades away. it finds Rae in "Bonnie & Clyde" style relationship where the joy of finding "my ticket out of town" is mixed with the upset of finding that he is something of s shyster with a "suitcase of lies". It's a neat little song that is wrapped up nicely as Rae reaches an epiphany with just a piano as she sings

Won't keep on running with you - now I make the rules"

Once again there's a full on production and top marks to the production team for building up a choir from just 3 voices.

things shift up a gear with "Still Breathing" which is a slower paced ballad, about finding out who your real friends are, the ones who are there to help and support when things go wrong.

"This is the moment life hits me hard and unravels I am frozen

Can't stop falling losing the battle

Than I hear your voice tell me that you'll always be there and your never going to leave me

I need you now please hold me"

If we take the words at face value then Rae would have been in a very dark place, the implications of the line

"You're the reason I'm still breathing" are not normally found in your average pop song, and there is real vulnerability in the line "I need you now please hold me" that elevates this to another level

There is a lovely moment, an emergence from the dark where Rae begs forgiveness that is quite touching, the music suitably building and stirring matched by her vocals as she says

"I don't have all the words to say i'm sorry I see the pain I&#x