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Sam Turton finds peace, releases new CD
by Eric Volmers

For all musicians of a certain age, watching the mop-topped Beatles wow America for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 was an obligatory rite of passage.

It certainly was for Guelph's Sam Turton, who was 13 when the Fab Four were first beamed into North America's consciousness, providing inspiration for millions of teens to pick up guitars of their own and try their hands at songwriting.

"I was just stunned," he said. "It just transformed everything for me, changed what I wanted to do."

But when promoting his debut solo album—nearly 40 years later—Turton dipped into history of John Lennon's post-Beatles work for a quick reference point; specifically, Lennon's testing of the then-controversial primal scream therapy as inspiration for the harrowing tracks found on 1970s Plastic Ono Band.

A graduate of the similar—if slightly less visceral—stream of psychology called primal integration, Turton is quick to credit his experiences with providing like inspiration for the music found on his debut disc Feel.

Turton went into therapy roughly 10 years ago when dealing with problems in his first marriage and has since become a therapist himself. He said the process freed him of his inhibitions, allowing him to find his singing and songwriting voice.

So why does his music sound so joyful compared to the stark confessionals found on Lennon's solo debut?

"The intention is to go from being fearful, angry and depressed to being joyful and fully engaged in life," said Turton, who will be holding a CD release party tonight at the Bookshelf's e-bar.

"Anyone who read interviews with Lennon would say he was a very angry man, with his relationships with women, the death of his mother and his childhood. The unfortunate thing with Lennon is that his process was interrupted. He never finished his therapy. He wanted the therapist to travel with him and he couldn't."

Still, while the songs on Feel may not be quite as dark as Lennon's work, they aren't lightweight either.

In fact, Turton seems so at ease with the various genres he straddles on the album that it's hard to believe it's his debut.

Using top-notch players, including his 27-year-old son Jesse on bass, the tunes go from scorching soul anthems, to gospel to funk-tinged pop and folk.

"I grew up in the '50s and as a young kid I was into the early rock-and roll thing," he said. "The Beatles were a big influence but I've been very influenced by the '60s R&B and Motown and funk, more than I realized."