When Sam Riggs released his debut album Outrun The Sun in October of 2013, he was the frontman of a band called "Sam Riggs and the Night People." While the band’s moniker may have been dropped from Breathless, they’re still very much a part of his touring life as his backing band and collaborators (The name was dropped to make marquee signs easier as he suffered the same problems Granger Smith did with previous projects as folks were unable to say the band's name right or fit it on club marquee signs properly). Riggs, who showed great potential as both a singer and songwriter on Outrun The Sun feels ready to shine on Breathless.
The album’s opener and lead single (in Texas) “The Lucky Ones” feels ready to compete with anything being released via major labels in Nashville as Riggs showcases his strong vocal, a vocal which often draws comparisons to Lonestar’s Richie McDonald. Sam’s voice is a pliable instrument which has a natural pocket where he often shines. The lyrics of “The Lucky Ones” tell a story of the small town kids who weren’t a part of a school clique, the ones who were “Raised up to be fighters” and they were “hell bent and full of fire” and “did everything to keep our dream alive.” Pretty much he’s talking about anyone who didn’t fit in because they chased music or other pursuits. It’s a strong opening and sets Breathless on a course that only gets stronger throughout the album’s 11 tracks.
There’s a pulsating groove to “Wake The Dead” that brings in some atmospheric sounds of 80s rock and roll with the thump of modern country/rock with a little rap in the mix as well and while that seems like something that shouldn’t work at all, it does, complete with electrics which recall fiddles. This is a song that should start all of his live shows and become a big hit for Riggs. “Secondhand Smoke,” may have an interesting interpretation of addiction as the hook of the song but that doesn’t stop the track from being a highlight of the song, a strong country ballad of heartbreak and pain. Remember that 80s feel that I mentioned before? “Burn Me Down” has that in spades whole “The Heartbreak Girl” feels like something that might’ve been on a Wallflowers record in the 1990s while the title track “Breathless” has the modern country/rock/soul vibe that Gary Allan’s been in search of.
“High On A Country Song” is ready for a live show and for all of the cliches that may be in this lyric, it still feels ready for radio. It feels like a cousin to Lonestar’s “No News” and is immediately backed up by the a truly great country song (complete with a steel guitar solo!). “To Say Something You Love” feels as if it could be on a Garth Brooks record. And that’s what’s great about Sam Riggs, he has written songs which not only work for him on record and in a live setting but with Breathless he’s honed in on who he is as an artist. Yes, there’s parts of influential sounds throughout Breathless but they all work tremendously well together. If any artist in Texas is ready for mainstream country success whose still not “known” nationally, it’s Sam Riggs as Breathlessproves.