"I had different stories to tell now, and I could no longer tell 'em with the blues. I needed more space and freedom in writing"
In 2015 he formed the Juke Joint Revival - "one of the most talented modern acts interpreting classic blues" according to Global Texan Chronicles, and released a full-length album, Swampside Crawl, in 2018. After touring with his Hill country blues band, the Juke Joint Revival in 2020, he took a break. "I felt like I was running out of creative energy with Juke Joint Revival when I realized all the new songs I was writing were country songs," he said. "I had different stories to tell now, and I could no longer tell 'em with the blues. I needed more space and freedom in writing."
With his new eight-song album called Tradin' Your Love, he traded Mississippi juke joints for the wide-open skies of Colorado, establishing himself as a country singer-songwriter. "My inspiration came from where music first took root for me: Guy Clark, Townes, Steve Earle, and Rodney Crowell, the great Texans." He also drew inspiration from his own life and all its ups and downs. Redbreast Wilson asks meaningful questions about life that take shape in his lyrics. After all, he studied philosophy in Europe.
The song ‘Sounds of Guitar Town’ immediately starts with a Colorado love story and an emotional road trip, contemplating: do we take enough risks in life and love? Do we let our fears hold us back? This theme continues throughout the album: in an imaginary car ride to visit long-lost lovers inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s classic Broken Flowers; in dealing with long-lost love, thinking about the past and how that effect our present, our future; and in plenty of self-reflection.
The songs cover a cinematic landscape, the Colorado sun, and getting high in the car through stories of love but they also cover deeper philosophical questions. Redbreast Wilson’s own journey from blues to country was a natural progress but change is a constant theme in his life too. While earning extra money playing blues in small bars, he traded academia to work in a run-down motel dealing with drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and other shady characters. With such experiences he found himself pondering how our decisions in life influence our journey. These life choices: where do they lead? Do they lead anywhere? Motifs in songs include family, childhood, the challenges of parenthood, a kid’s experiences of growing up with a depressed father, and dead ends despite our best efforts.
Sam’s passion for music began in his early childhood when he would sing folk songs with his father, a gifted fiddler. From there he developed an interest in drums, which he proceeded to study at a high level, playing in various bands throughout high school. Then, as a teenager, he discovered old video footage of the Newport Folk Festival 1966, with classic performances from the likes of Skip James, Bukka White, and Son House. Sam had found his true calling. He was possessed by the music of the Mississippi Delta, and the sound of the resonator guitar. And so, he taught himself to play, mimicking what he heard in the old recordings. Soon he began playing in bars, then at some small festivals, and even busking on the streets across Europe.