Joe Sampson

Joe Sampson | Photo by Glenn Ross“The quiet beauty of Joe Sampson’s music comes from its stark simplicity, haunting textures and dark mystery”The Denver Post

Joe Sampson is the champion of the musical understatement, each song exuding a gently mesmerising beauty. His music evokes the comfortably sad acoustic tones of Nick Drake or Leonard Cohen, ornamented with often darkly humorous lyrics, intoned in a soft yet road-worn baritone. Sampson’s intimate, emotive songs draw you in, gradually weaving their subtle magic.
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Chansons de Parade

December 2016

The follow-up to his acclaimed EP Songs of Delay released earlier this year, Chansons de Parade is another exquisitely crafted collection of songs from Joe Sampson, with an uncanny ability to quietly get under your skin. While drawing from the musical spirit of Simon & Garfunkel, Iron & Wine, and Low, the songs on Chansons de Parade sound familial rather than familiar. Combining haunting yet playful lyrical narratives, a mesmerising road-worn baritone vocal, and a delicious melodic sensibility, these nine songs feel like long-term friends from the first listen. The music’s intimacy, gently lilting country slant and spacious, restrained instrumentation add depth and resonance to Sampson’s rustic folk influences.


Songs of Delay

September 2016

Songs of Delay is a sublime five-track EP of consummate songcraft. Across its 13-minute run-time, Joe Sampson patiently unfurls a perfectly formed suite of acoustic vignettes, each song exuding a gently mesmerising beauty. Stripped back in both instrumentation and execution, with additional vocals by Nathaniel Rateliff on ‘Songbird’, the EP leaves its raw, emotional core exposed, evoking the comfortably sad acoustic tones of Nick Drake or Leonard Cohen. Ornamented with often darkly humorous lyrics, intoned in a soft yet road-worn baritone, Sampson’s intimate, emotive songs draw you in, gradually weaving their subtle magic.


Since his childhood days singing in his family’s barbershop quartet, up through his years collaborating with celebrated musicians like Nathaniel Rateliff and Esme Patterson, Joe Sampson has steadily sharpened his sound and style, becoming one of Denver’s most celebrated songwriters. Westword named him Songwriter of the Year in 2008, describing his work as “combining the emotional weight of acoustic breakup albums like Beck’s Sea Change or Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker with an aw-fuck-it humour.”


All Reviews


  • Joe Sampson “Chansons de Parade” Reviewed at Music Won’t Save You

    [Translated from the Italian via Google. Read the original here.]

    “From the twelve minutes of the EP’s ” Songs Of Delay ” debut at just over twenty, for nine songs, of “Chansons de Parade”, the concision is certainly among the talents of Joe Sampson, singer of Denver who after recognition and Collaborations seem to have finally found their way to writing and producing the official music.

    The concision does not exhaust, however, of course, the artistic representation of Sampson, which in the new collection amplifies the expressive breathing already highlighted in the previous Ep and consists of a flat writing, a soft baritone stamp and a way to play the guitar to a Gentle picking combines more decisive arrangements and extremely sliding harmonies.
    As part of a wider song, the nine “Chansons de Parade” amplify these characters in ballads of umbratile intimacy, referring to the first Iron & Wine (“Was not Was not”), ranging from muffled environments, from the tasteful sixties (“Wealth”) to a country-folk lyricism, however, always obscured by a mere introspective (“Come What May”).

    In the sequel of songs that follow in an agile parade, there are some of the most vibrant harmonic structures, accompanied by more definite dynamics (“Gown” and especially “Otherwise The Pull”), but all of them Characterized by an extraordinary naturalness of writing and interpretation, that of a craftsman of songs able to create small wonders that, while being made up of those same elements, travalicano of momentum every cliché of the songwriter guitar and voice.”

    Music Won’t Save You

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  • Joe Sampson “Chansons de Parade” Reviewed at Luna Kafe

    “I was about to write a piece on Joe Sampson’s Songs of Delay EP, but days, weeks and months passed. Suddenly it was December and Sampson launched a new record, Chansons de Parade. Now, as it is early January 2017, I will try to ‘make good on’ my missing review from 2015 by writing a two-in-one piece for both releases now. The Songs of Delay EP held 5 songs, while Chansons de Parade holds 9 songs. Altogether, the two platters clock in at less than 35 minutes. Which could be an album of perfect length.

    Sampson is an American artist based in Denver, Colorado (since 2000). He grew up in Connecticut, for then – at age (about) nineteen – to move to Arizona. Via Seattle, WA, and Charleston, South Carolina he eventually ended up in Colorado. In his childhood days, (it’s been said) he was singing in his family’s barbershop quartet. Eventually, over the years, he turned into a low-voiced singer-songwriter writing quality songs influenced by a mixture of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Iron & Wine, Devendra Banhart, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy/Will Oldham, and Low to name but a few. He’s been a member of bands like A Dog Paloma and Bad Weather California; he’s been collaborating on projects like Wentworth-Kersey, or he’s been playing solo shows with friends (like Nathaniel Rateliff, who contributes to Songs of Delay). Sampson has been a visible member of the acoustic songwriter scene in Denver for some years, but he’s only distributed (hand-circulated) a bunch of four-track recordings on CD-Rs only, plus even a ‘box set’ with his songs, until some friends of his ‘forced’ him to record and release his first ‘real’ record, Kill Our Friends (Fellow Creature Recordings, 2012). It’s quite hard to track him down, so it seems Songs of Delay is his first record since the 2012 album. He has probably lived a hard-knock life, which is reflected through some of his lyrics.

    The EP opens with “Song Bird”, a duet with another Denver singer-songwriter buddy of his, the aforementioned Nathaniel Rateliff (who’s had a celebrated solo career on his own). “Moon on the Rise” is a perfect song for us here at Luna Kafé, but I’d stay off the glue and drink mentioned in the lyrics. “Dream on Demon” follows, but it is the next song that is the true highlight of this EP. The melancholy “My Love” is a fantastic, brilliant song. The mood, the performance, the atmosphere, the arrangement, the vocals, the guitar playing. Everything. The EP’s closing track is another fine track, “Paper Dolls”. Again, Joe Sampson shows skills as a songwriter and as a performer. Imagine sad, bittersweet songs with humor, punch and sublimity. Hidden Shoal claims that Joe Sampson is ‘the champion of the musical understatement’ and the label states that ‘each song exuding a gently mesmerising beauty.’ True words. Joe Sampson is a fine artist who should definitely find a bigger audience. I guess he will do so. I sure hope he will. He deserves a bigger audience. His songs are naked, stripped and raw, aiming for your heart and soul.

    The quick follow-up to Songs of Delay appeared only 3 months after his EP. Chansons de Parade is another fine collection of well-crafted songs. According to Hidden Shoal, these are songs ‘with an uncanny ability to quietly get under your skin.’ The single “Wealth” opens the album in a fine way. “Orchard” is one of the highlights on an album sparkling and flowing with fine, calm songs which sounds ‘familial rather than familiar’, holding ‘delicious melodic sensibility’ (again Hidden Shoal). “Come What May” sounds more uplifting, happier, as does “(Trawling)”. Even his sad songs sound uplifting, if you’re asking me. Take “Impressed”, “Otherwise The Pull” or “Blue” and you’ll (maybe) see what I mean. To quote Hidden Shoal once more: ‘combining the emotional weight of acoustic breakup albums like Beck’s Sea Change or Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker with an aw-fuck-it humour.’ Chansons de Parade is for sure a comforting album now as winter means rain and storm and the all fucked-up Trump soon takes the Presidential chair. Joe Sampson for president, I’d say!”

    Luna Kafe

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  • Joe Sampson “Chanson de Parade” Reviewed at Half-Life Music

    “Joe Sampson is a label mate of Kramies on Hidden Shoal. He’s a singer-songwriter in the spirit of Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen. In September he released a 5-song EP, Songs of Delay. It featured a track with Nathaniel Rateliff of the Night Sweats fame. Now, there’s a full album. Entitled Chansons de Parade, it hallmarks Sampson’s fragile-sounding style. But it’s not bedsits and microwaves. There’s a playfulness to the lyrics and a lovely chiming quality to the guitar sound that lifts the songs.

    Songs of Delay is available as a free download from Sampson’s Bandcamp site. Chansons de Parade is also there and for a name-your-own-price deal. As a taster, here’s Joe Sampson and Nathaniel Rateliff singing ‘Songbird’ from the Songs of Delay EP.”

    Half-Life Music

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  • Joe Sampson “Songs of Delay” Reviewed At Music Won’t Save You

    [Translated via Google. Read the original here.]

    Are twelve minutes sufficient for a songwriter to fully deploy his own personality. Twelve minutes are enough to be enchanted in front of the simple naturalness and delicate understatement of his melodies. The duration is one of the five songs Ep “Songs Of Delay” and the singer in question is called Joe Sampson and comes from Denver, where he was honored as songrwriter of the year in 2008 and later collaborated with musicians such as Nathaniel Rateliff and Esme Patterson.

    Just Nathaniel Rateliff returns the favor in the suffused interweaving of the opening song “Songbird”, which perpetuates the discrete magic of Simon & Garfunkel, defining immediately hushed homely atmosphere in which resonate the acoustic notes and the delicate Sampson vocal timbre. In five short tracks Ep, artist Colorado showcases natural talents for harmonization even when the structures become slightly more decisive ( “Moon On The Rise”), cloaked in soft country-folk nuances ( “Dream On”) .

    The more personal and immediate essence of writing Sampson shines, however the best in the two ballads on the tips of the fingers end, the romantic “My Love” and “Paper Dolls”, a short essay of bittersweet melancholy copyright, which instills a dim ray of light in his creative space shadowy, unadorned, but rich in heart and inspiration. Twelve minutes are sufficient to understand everything, even if at the end of their listening is a very strong desire to find out as soon as possible also many other songs by a songwriter crystalline talent.

    Music Won’t Save You

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  • Joe Sampson “Songs of Delay” Reviewed at A Decouvrir Absolument

    [Translated via Google. Read the original here.]

    It is perhaps for the reading of the M train of Patty Smith that I really arrived to savor this man, not to happen to dissociate his sonorous work from a reading that hypnotized me, for this impression to move me to sound Of these ballads, for this alchemy of simple things that the muse used to say, and which the timid little man sang. It was necessary to listen to Joe in the solitude of a helmet and in the breadth of a world, and to discover that in the tiniest survival of eternity, in the mere twist of a rope was born the music of the Milky Way which Mark our sadness and joy. Patty describes coffee cups with a thousand tastes, millions of places, infinite faces, and Joe brings all these polaroids to the hollow of a sound, this incredible ability to irrigate the eyes and to form minimal earthquakes along the skins, yes , Joe accompanies the journey of this reading with an art so simple, that it seems to be born in us, in our epidermis of bad writers, poor musicians, bitter singers. Leave Patty’s reading and swim our bodies of swimmers in Joe’s music, this Denver sound that no longer has birthplaces as soon as it is born but that tames the quiet universe of our wise evenings. Joe is a small stream of wise air that interferes without brusqueness, heat just to make itself felt, force just to penetrate to the pleura, touch the heart, touch the heart. We have to hide Joe’s words in confined spaces, closed circles of our arms, as when listening to Cohen, without wanting to share it with anyone, something that is preserved by thinking that it is so fragile that only in our hearts He will be safe. You have to grab Joe’s sounds in small rooms, like when you listen to Dylan watching time, assuming that the gestures would break the crystal, and close your eyes, you must listen to it without seeing it, you must let it in without to see him. Joe sings the delicacy, there is in the weakness of this song a span that extends beyond the irises, a force which is called beauty, which inebriates the cheeks, and which makes ignite the torsos, sometimes The intonation of the voice is a hymn so small, so small, that it enters everywhere, invades without difficulty, and conquers at the speed of a cloud our desires for peace. Joe is a small piece of paradise hanging on our ears, a piece of Eden that has beaten wings to our temples, a Rara opinion, a delicate glass shard where it is imprisoned the sun in love with rain, a detail Wonderful of a magnificent whole, and the perfect music for majestic readings.

    A Decouvrir Absolument

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  • Joe Sampson “Songs of Delay” Reviewed at The Marquee

    “Joe Sampson creates a lot with a little. Maybe it was his family roots of a barbershop quartet that lead to the minimalism of his craft. Maybe it was his collaborations with Nathaniel Rateliff and Esme Patterson, or maybe it’s just because he doesn’t need to add any bells or whistles to his songs. The Denver songwriter, who took home Songwriter of the Year from Westword  in 2008 and was hailed as the rarely seen and mythical musical unicorn by Hey Reverb, has just released his stark, EP Songs of Delay — a stunning 13-minute journey straight into the heart of superb songwriting and a simple, austere but elegant presentation of those songs.

    The delicate “Songbird” which kicks off the EP features vocal accompaniment by Rateliff, but instead of Rateliff’s over-the-top “S.O.B” vocal work, the song instead features the head of the Night Sweats in one of his most demure tones. The rest of the suite follows the same path — creating heaping amounts of beauty with the most limited ingredients; a few chords and some well-penned lyrics.”

    The Marquee

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  • Joe Sampson ‘Songbird’ Reviewed at Abduction Radiation

    “Joe Sampson released his EP Songs of Delay earlier last month. One of the highlights of the EP is “Songbird” featuring Nathaniel Rateliff. The simplistic acoustic guitar with the soft harmonies of Sampson and Rateliff’s vocals have a slight gritty nature to it. The bareness of the track add a fragility to the track, like if a single note was out of place, the whole song would crash.”

    Abduction Radiation

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  • Joe Sampson “Songs of Delay” Reviewed at The Big Takeover

    “This is 13 ephemeral minutes, five songs reminiscent of F.M. Cornog/East River Pipe that left me intrigued and hungry for much more. If you relish the sadder side of Sarah Records or early, 4AD/Crepuscule songwriter albums, Denver’s Sampson is worth your time. The acoustic opener “Song Bird” queasily paves the way for this quintet of purgative, late night confessionals. Indeed, words such as “I want to spend my days on glue” and eerily sincere, yet diffident whispers of “Should give my best, to my love…Something that I should show,” reveal a guy pouring blood from his heart, never mind his sleeve. If music is catharsis, this gently-plucked, slow beast of an EP is Sampson’s way of quietly “baseball bashing” our souls.”

    The Big Takeover

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  • Joe Sampson “Songs of Delay” Reviewed at SAD

    “September is a beautiful month.

    The hot weather begins to loosen its grip and the days become shorter increasingly cool slowly, minute by minute. Unfortunately it is also the month when we come back overwhelmed by the bustle of everyday life: accompanies his grandmother, run to the supermarket, buy a plane ticket, remember to take the grandmother, not walk the roads clogged with traffic, and (perhaps) flies to the concert.

    The frenzy of September as the hot sticky August: you will not easily free. Unless the music playlists you have in the car there is the unfathomable delicacy of musicians like Joe Sampson .

    This fantastic, elusive artist from spiritual tones seems to be already well known to the musical community of Denver, CO (hence the birth) and, after years of amateur distribution of his music, he is ready to release his official debut.

    The melodies that make up this EP range from the bare simplicity created by a guitar and a sweet bass, the subtle magic of a tambourine (Dream on), until you get to a dark mystery reinvented by a voice double track thanks to Nathaniel Rateliff collaboration (Bird Song).

    Songs of Delay is a fascinating EP, in which the melodies recall the sad tones of Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, letting the delicate compositions find their way into the subconscious of every listener, without being overly intrusive.

    The texts accompanying these five concise tracks seem to be full of fragmented meaning, the hidden mystery, sometimes delicate, others full of contempt against a former lover or perhaps just full of great frustration. Among all immediately it struck My Love, a contemplative song, in which he sings the sadness to the heart that feels, leaving the listener the task of scrutinizing himself inwardly, for just under two minutes.

    The folk proposed by Joe is a magical folk, enveloping and not enough whole frenzy of this world, to divert my attention from this hypnotic artist. September is a beautiful month, because the music softens its hectic pace without ever fade.”


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  • Joe Sampson ‘My Love’ Reviewed at The Trusted Ear

    “Joe Sampson is a Denver treasure.

    You know that thing they say about DJ Z-Trip being your favorite DJ’s favorite DJ? Same with Sampson, only swap “DJ” for “songwriter” and add “Denver” as a modifier.

    Way back in 2012, I sat down with Sampson and Jules Bethea-Rateliff, and we spoke about Fellow Creatures, a label that the latter launched specifically just to put out her dear friend’s first formal release, Kill Our Friends.

    Funny thing about that title, Sampson’s friends — many of whom assembled for his release show — are actually the ones who lobbied him to release the record. That platter was every bit as excellent as everybody expected.

    Four years later, Hidden Shoal Recordings out of Australia is preparing to issue Songs of Delay, a new five-song EP from Sampson due next month that features backing vocals from fellow hometown compadre Nathaniel Rateliff on a tune titled, appropriately “Songbird.”

    Earlier today, Hidden Shoal shared the first track, and, well, it sounds like classic Sampson. The track, which is called “My Love,” features understated instrumentation — Sampson’s acoustic and a gentle bass line — that let’s Sampson’s beautiful voice and melody come through. Like the rest of the EP, which has a run time of just 13 minutes, the song (itself less than two minutes long) finds Sampson making every line count.

    Hidden Shoal has graciously made the song available for free download via Sampson’s Bandcamp page. Keep an eye out for the EP, which is slated for release on September 12.”

    The Trusted Ear

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Songs of Delay



I am a songbird too
Long before I met you
So come let me sing you a song
It won’t do no harm

I am a long boy blue
Long before I had you
So come let me sing you a song
It won’t do no harm
Friends at bay
Friends no more
you passed your day
as a friendly sort
What could you prove
What did you move
When you said
Ahh…is that what you do?



Moon on the Rise

There’s a moon on the Rise
Reflecting off the tide
Then, reflecting off those tired eyes
There’s no boating home
All I want to do is spend my days on glue
And drink for a while until I smile

All I want to do is spend my days on glue
And drink for a while until I smile
What I wish to lose is those days with the fucking blues
sing for a while
Until we smile



Dream on Demon

Two other sons
And there was nothing
Dream on Demon
Stick around
Because we’re used to hand me downs

And it’s a cold walk
To get into your town

Belong to us
Hang around
To abuse the common ground

And it’s a cold walk
To get into your town
For a cold one
That I’d rather watch drown

there is no one at all
Am I supposed to crawl
There is no at all
For my bones to call



My Love

On my best
My love
Something that we should know
It’s my part
As your guest
Guessing there’s nothing above
At my stay at be honest
Can’t find nothing but trouble
On my best
My love
Words we’ll come to loathe

Go retire down the road
What the fuck should you know

On My best
My love
Something that we should show



Paper Dolls

I’m off to bed
tired and unwed
To leave you all
To when the bleachers were warm
And oh, in her eyes
Was a cold, cold surprise
A blameless call
Up to the war
And if you’re going leave
Take the dawn
And if you’re going to bleed
Don’t take too long

The song filled the room
With platitude perfume
An ageless waltz
Built for the mall
Was it really just me
Dancing down the street
in the arms of paper dolls
In a step called jealousy

Artist Photos


Music Videos


Joe Sampson’s music is  available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.