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Sam Morton revisits her past to grapple with her identity on Daffodils & Dirt

"Daffodils & Dirt"

Release date: 14 June 2024
Sam Morton Daffodils Dirt cover
13 June 2024, 09:00 Written by Matt Young

Daffodils & Dirt is an album possessed.

Ghostly shimmers and echoes of Sam Morton’s past life haunt the sombre, subtle tones. Sparse piano and spoken words, dusty beats, and reverb-soaked singing. This is music as an astral projection, inhabiting herself, little Sam living with foster parents, surviving in children’s homes, and rough sleeping. She’s facing it so boldly and vividly that her ‘troubled’ existence is alive with authenticity. She sings about the “Smell of piss” and begs, “Hug me while I cry” on “Hunger Hill Road”.

She may be singing sweetly, the accompanying gentle melodies flickering and pinging around her lyrics, but these are not the lullabies they may seem. “Little White Cloud That Cried”, a cover of Johnny Ray’s melodramatic 1950’s classic ballad, may seem benign. Still, it’s given added poignancy as that melancholy underpins Sam's sadness and sense of loss for a missed childhood. “Kaleidoscope” is a dreamy, trip-hop ode that leans into the repetition and tech glitching of Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead. There are so many genuinely revealing, private moments within the lyrics and expressed in Morton’s heartfelt singing that it’s difficult not to think of Daffodils & Dirt as anything other than a solo project. The truth is producer Richard Russell is the guiding hand who takes her stream-of-consciousness thoughts, narrations, poetry, and songs and melds them into spooky-sounding cohesive forms laced with beats and breaks that touch on 90’s hip hop and dance music. It’s very much a symbiotic dual effort.

“Broxtowe” reminiscences, both fondly and wearily, of a youth spent listening to precious moments of music grabbed while she was able, including to UB40’s Labour of Love Pt. 2 and cannily features the recognizable Brummie voice of Ali Campbell backing Sam’s singing in an updated version of that yesteryear recollection. Morton knows how to deliver drama and speaks her lines with a frankness and clarity that genuinely touches your heart. Her music is nothing short of emotional and fascinating as she strives to make sense of her upbringing, her family dynamics and the relationships of her younger years.

The collaborative freedom and creativity of nostalgic house music sounds and samples of “Double Dip Neon” showcase just how brightly the past and present coexist. This is partly Sam's self-portrait and Russel’s portrait of Sam, very much a combined effort by the duo.

Morton uses her words to tell her own stories and set them up as storytelling fables, the bedtime stories all children have, that she wasn’t privy to, acting as scary, cautionary tales. “The Shadow” is one such simply told frightening piece. “Loved By God” closes out the album on a divine, mournful note. It’s a prayer written to her very young self. It also takes her own difficult stories, her bravery, willpower and trust in something better and morphs into the connectedness of things, in all life, for good. No matter how harsh the present feels, or felt, there is hope.

Daffodils & Dirt is an album that exudes an overwhelming sense of light, casting out the shade and destroying the darkness. She takes her biographical truths and weaves them into simultaneously mournful and sparkling art. There’s a sense of closure in many ways or at least an acceptance of things past, as if drawing from another realm. The eerie sounds and crisp narration decay as the album ends and like the singer we are left with mere echoes of an album that combines beauty and horror to create a firm resilience and achingly genuine heart.

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