When Sam Beeton began to cultivate his teenage rock dreams, he found himself drawing on a strong family tradition. The son of a father who played in 1970s punk band, The Drains, but loved the songs of Paul Simon, he was raised in a Nottingham household in which his older cousins would often traipse in and out with their acoustic guitars and a sound knowledge of The Beatles' back catalogue.
If music was in Sam's blood from an early age, then the boyish 19-year-old is certainly putting his natural instincts to good use. His breezy, sun-kissed songs are wide-eyed but knowing and undoubtedly deserve the wider exposure that his forthcoming single and debut album will bring them. If the heartfelt Hawaiian optimism of Jack Johnson had been filtered through a childhood spent listening to pop and punk in the East Midlands, then the results might have sounded something like Sam.
Beeton is a singer-songwriter with a rare talent. Firstly, he is a classic pop singer whose bright, catchy tunes should be easily accessible to anyone who listens to daytime radio. Beyond that though, he is also a writer of genuine emotional depth and a craftsman whose abilities as a guitarist, pianist and drummer have given him the vision to turn the stripped-down, acoustic basics of his music into something far more lavish, finely-wrought and musically far-reaching. A melody man at heart, he has the potential to reach out to millions.
'I like songs that have more than one meaning,' he says. 'Why should a lyric be open to only one interpretation? I like songs that mean one thing on the surface and something else once you dig that little bit deeper. Ray Davies had a classic way of expressing something profound in a simple, catchy pop song. Paul McCartney and Neil Finn, of Crowded House, are really good at it, too.'
After a 'terrible early-teen phase', in which he briefly got into nu-metal and followed The Offspring and Rancid, Sam began to perform acoustically in a local pub, The Old Volunteer. Playing a song or two between sets by other acts, he began by singing classic Nina Simone covers but gradually moved on to his own material. As his own sets grew in length, so did the cult following which began to materialise as Beeton's support slots became headline appearances. Although still at school, Sam was on his way.
By the time a demo tape found its way to record labels, the local hero was already becoming a more widespread phenomenon, with small London shows augmenting his regular Nottingham gigs. With interest from all the major record companies - for whom Beeton would simply turn up with his guitar and play - he signed for RCA, the label that he felt best understood his music.
Keeping alive the refreshing feel of his demos, Sam's forthcoming album skips effortlessly between skiffle-infused pop and jangling country-rock, with multi-instrumentalist Sam even adding a little Cajun fiddle and country banjo on a couple of tracks. And while the recordings have also been spiced up by vocal harmonies that could have come straight from the valleys of California, the finished album also stays true to the original spirit of the songs.
And, whether Sam is singing about his lingering affection for an old flame (as on What You Look For) or reflecting on a bizarre dream (as on the ludicrously catchy Under The Fence), he has an uncanny ability to make even the most personal of emotions sound wholly universal.
'I write about things that happen to me,' he says. 'I have a song called Where We Are that's about my journey so far. It's me wondering what's going to happen next. I'm looking forward to finding out what people think about my music, but there's a bit of trepidation in there, too. Time Takes Its Toll is about me leaving Nottingham and coming to London to look for a deal, but it's also about me leaving my youth behind. I don't want to hit 25 in a few years time and realise that I've taken all this stuff too seriously. I'm trying to capture my feelings, and I hope that other people will relate to them.'
Sam also has a wise old head on his young shoulders. Whatever happens next, he isn't about to get carried away. His Midlands roots should always see to that.
'It was strange talking to record companies while I was still at school,' he says. 'I tended not to say too much about it to my friends in Nottingham. It's not the kind of thing that you boast about in the classroom. If you did, you'd soon be taken down a peg or two.
That's why I refuse to take myself too seriously and pop music should be enjoyable so I'm certainly going to enjoy doing this.'