JR SAMUELS has been involved in the indie and underground scenes of the North-Eastern United States for the better half of a decade now.

While resident in Ithaca in New York’s Finger Lakes back in 2015, he tickled the six strings in fine lofi outfit Izzy True and also steered the good ship Sweet Baby God Records.

In 2016 he moved to Philadelphia, where he’s guitarist for both Yowler and 2nd Grade, as well as slipping down two strings to the bass for freak country outfit Friendship.

And he’s still got time to venture out musically under his own name: last year he released In Brend, an octet of solo improvisations for the classical guitar inspired by the philosophical writings of 60s’ radical thinker and avant-garde artist Henry Flynt. It was a fine, nuanced, primitivist guitar set, out there near the work of William Tyler, but with a rawer edge. 

On October 16th he’s releasing Hand Like God, a second collection of solo guitar improvisation, all laid down on the porch of his home in Philly one March afternoon. And today at Backseat Mafia we’re delighted to premiere the flowing, expressive sketch that opens Hand Like God, “Doomer” – watch the video below.

It’s the free and liquid playing of a man who absolutely knows his way around a fretboard; don’t you love the way he leaves the serendipity of the captured ice cream truck eerily chiming away as a counterpoint?

The album as a whole is a cathartic expression of grief. JR says: “In the book of Job, a pious man is tested by a petty god, the purest expression of grief in the face of the unjust.

“The improvised pieces in Hand of God capture these same moments of grief, when one voices their own pain and is able to hear it spoken for the first time.”

Elsewhere on the album you’ll find the kind of nuanced, ringing, guitar soli improvisation of Raag Manifestos-era Jack Rose, still so much missed to this day.

If solo acoustic guitar is your thing, climb aboard the contemplative and questioning raft of JR Samuels.

JR Samuels’ Hand of God is being released by Dear Life Records on digital and limited cassette formats on October 16th. To order your copy, visit the label’s Bandcamp page, here.