Wednesday, April 7, 2021

CD Odyssey Disc 1463: Samia

Welcome back to the CD Odyssey. This next artist got a lot of critical love last year as a newcomer. I liked her too; she’s an up-and-comer that I expect has staying power.

Disc 1463 is…. The Baby

Artist: Samia

Year of Release: 2020

What’s up with the Cover?  It’s a Big Head Cover featuring Samia herself. For younger readers that weirdly shaped red thing that Samia is holding up to her face is called a telephone. That is what they used to look like, and despite this photo they are not suited to a walk in the woods unless you have a very long cord.

The fact that it is a red one either means Samia is being fashionable, or she’s got Vladimir Putin on the phone and she’s trying to forestall a nuclear exchange. For all our sakes, I hope it is just a fashion statement.

How I Came To Know It: I read a review of this record last year and decided to give it a chance. I liked what I heard.

How It Stacks Up: This is Samia’s only album so far, so I couldn’t stack it up even if I wanted to. Ask me in a couple of years.

Ratings: 3 stars

Samia’s debut album “The Baby” is thoroughly enjoyable modern pop music. While it doesn’t break a lot of new ground, she does deliver some solid indie vibes and songs that are equally good for a joyful summer drive or a melancholy autumn walk.

Samia is only twenty and it is her first record, but she sings these tunes with a self-assurance that belies her years. This lush version of indie pop has many artists who warble their notes around like they have a mouth of marbles, or curl words in cute ways that serve only to make them hard to understand. Samia trusts in her skill. She sings it out and trusts that her voice is strong enough to carry the day without any affectation.

Fortunately, she’s got a strong voice. She’s not a belter, but rather a pop singer with a natural sweetness. Her head voice is particularly poignant, and she climbs in and out of falsetto smooth as silk. With all these new pop radio stars trying to be “different” and butchering melodies in the attempt, it was refreshing to hear an artist just sing.

Samia also has plenty of honesty in the tunes. Some of the tunes are tinged with sadness, or sitting on icebergs of doubt, but she embraces that doubt in a way that draws you deeper into the experience. The lyrics aren't Leonard Cohen-level, but they feel real and paint a picture in your mind. Combined with her delivery, it works.

This is Samia’s first album, and you can feel her experimenting with various sounds. “Fit ‘n’ Full” has a rock edge, “Does Not Heal” has a folk feel with its confessional delivery and acoustic guitar picking patterns, and “Big Wheel” has a radio friendly pop sound. Despite all the experimentation I always heard “pop” even when Samia is working the other sides of her sound. I didn’t mind though – it was good pop, and the other influences give the album range and interest.

The album ends on a high point, with “Something in the Movies,” a tune with a light strum of guitar, a bit of overdub (pop rearing its head) and Samia demonstrating both her fragile and beautiful falsetto right alongside big bold anthemic power moments.

At just 36 minutes, “The Baby” is compact and the songs, while averaging three or four minutes each, tend to have two or three concepts that are well blended. Samia wrote them all and shows a strong talent for that side of the creative process. I’m looking forward to what she does from here.

Best tracks: Big Wheel, Stellate, Triptych, Waverly, Is There Something in the Movies?

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