From The American Left History blog-March 2012
Lonesomeville, Les Sampou, Flying Fish CD, Rounder Records, 1996
The substance of this review was originally used in the review of Les Sampou’s “Borrowed And Blue” album. I have revised that review and most of the points made apply to the other three CD’s reviewed in this space as well.
The name Les Sampou most recently came up in this space, in passing, as part of a review of blues/folk stylist/ songwriter Rory Block’s work. I made the point there that Rory (and Les, Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur and precious few others) were performing a great service by keeping the female blue singer tradition alive (and, for that matter, male-witness the songs covered by all four). Along the way doing the same for the more amorphous contemporary folk tradition with their own fair share of masterful songwriting efforts. Since I placed Les Sampou in such august company it was, thus, only a matter of time before I got around to giving her a few kudos of her own. The following paragraph from the Rory Block review can serve here for Les as well:
“But more than that, thanks for this great album of country blues classics some famous, some a little obscure and known only to serious aficionados but all well worth placing in the album with the quirky little Rory Block treatment that makes many of the songs her own. Oh, did I also mention her virtuoso strong guitar playing. Well, that too. I have gone on and on elsewhere in this space about the old time women blues singers, mostly black, like Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey and Ida Cox. I have also spilled some ink on more modern, mainly white, women blues singers like Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur and a local talent here in Boston, Les Sampou, and their admirable (and necessary) efforts to carry on this proud tradition. Rory belongs right up there with these women.”
As For “Lonesome” here is the ‘skinny’:
I will make the same point I made in reviewing the “Les Sampou” album because that same spirit pervades this effort. There are a lot of way to be “in” the contemporary folk scene. One way is to write some topical songs of love, longings for love, maybe, a little politics thrown in and maybe some snappy thing about the vacuity of modern life. Yes, that is the easy stuff and Les can, if the occasion calls for it, summon up some very powerful lyrics to make those points. Witness “Holy Land ” and “Home Again”. But, something more is going on here. This is a woman who has been through the emotional wringer, and survived. Listen up.