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Sam Bergquist - Wiser Then (Self-Released)

19 June 2023

Wiser Then, the latest EP from Boston singer-songwriter Sam Bergquist, aims the camera lens directly at the question of relationships, romantic and otherwise. With an Americana sound influenced by the likes of Steve Earle, Neil Young, and Jackson Browne, Bergquist has a refreshingly laid back, straightforward style that lends itself to the homespun wisdom of the first-person narratives over these four songs. Bergquist has released his share of solo releases in the past, but more recently he was the frontman for Loose Change until he decided he needed to change and lose the band. Ironically, it’s as if by going solo that he has gained the greatest insights into the lives of others for his songs.

Bergquist keeps the production fairly simple and stripped back for the most part, only adding occasional accompaniment, like the clever Mark Knopfler-esque call and response between his vocals and the electric guitar on “Do Things Different.” Here Bergquist takes a look at human frailties and insecurities, admitting with a Browne-like cadence, “When I do things different, it might mean trouble / Should I do things this way, it’s not efficient.” On “Darlin” he looks at these mistakes from the viewpoint of a romantic partner, and if there is a message across the EP, it seems that honesty and owning up to one’s own shortcomings are the keys to a successful relationship with anyone.

Bergquist doesn’t try to shake the world with Wiser Then, but it’s almost as if he wants to slip into the room quietly, preferring to slowly blow away the listener with the accumulation of his strongly poetic lyricism over time. It’s a subtly brilliant EP that marks the re-emergence of a uniquely gifted voice in Americana.