Hello my pretties,
It’s me again, Rebel Yell, miss me? Don’t be silly of course you did! Remember how I was saying I was in demand? Well slowly but surely I am making my way through that extensive list. Unfortunately one event that I was super psyched to attend, Dovehouse’s single launch for Cheap Tricks
at the Hope & Ruin last Thursday, had to missed due to England’s glorious weather screwing over our already dubious train services. What’s more, not only would the night have been incredible, but also would have served as a part two to the news I have to share today. A few months back I had the pleasure of interviewing singer-songwriter Sami James (a support act for Dovehouse’s launch) for my fellow blogger Treble With The Bass
, whereby he gave us a taster regarding his debut EP: Show The World.
Guess what folks?! That day is here! So strap on your seatbelts and brace yourself because you’re mind is about to get blown…again.
Back in March, Sami stated his EP revolves around the concept of “having faith in your passion and following what you love” but his most interesting comment was how he defined himself as an artist. Declaring he is “honest and pure – no filter”. However I will be the judge of that. Right. The juries seated. And there is one smoking Judge on the scene. Let’s get to it shall we?
Track One: Judge Me
Sami doesn’t waste time in grabbing the listener’s attention. Within seconds they are hooked to both an interestingly rhythmic and melodic introduction, demonstrating the important of instrumentation without the support of lyrics. He further exhibits his ability as a songwriter as he composes an arrangement that enhances rather than drowns the vocal. Although, it’s worth noting that the composition, as a whole, feels full yet without sounding complicated or clustered. Now I’m aware that I went into student musician mode right there, shudders of fear rattled down my spine! But trust me all of those are remarkable check points that most musicians I’ve listened to fail to incorporate into one song, let alone the first 20 seconds of an EP. While the instrumentation leaves space for the vocal in verses, the pre chorus drops further allowing the vocals to become vulnerable, suiting the theme of judgment perfectly. Side note: the irony of a reviewer such as myself writing about an EP whose first track is titled Judge Me did tickle my funny bone…ya know because I’m judging it…and…never mind…I have an odd sense of humour you should all know that by now! Moving swiftly on…for someone who finds it exceptionally difficult to use repetition effectively within her own songs, it is refreshing to hear the technique being used effectively. What’s more, the lyrics are simple yet potent. Not masked in misleading metaphors. What you see is what you get. And that is something I love about Sami’s work. Brutal honesty in a beautiful package. Notably there is an unexpected guitar solo mid way through the song which provided a sense of release that the listener was unaware they needed. However my favourite element of the whole song has to be last chorus. The change in the backing vocals from being in unison to being behind not only prevents the song from being dully repetitive but provides a subtle change that makes the listener fall further in love.
Track Two: Flowers On The Ground
Delicate and beautiful. If I could leave it at that I would, but I don’t want the song to feel like I favour the others more by spending more time with them! After all songs have feelings too…I know how insane that sounds so hush! Let’s just blame it on lack of sleep shall we? Yeah let’s stick with that. That sounds highly plausible. Especially to those who know me, ya know what I’m talking about! Okay I’ve gone off on a tangent larger than the size of a politician’s ego. Back to beloved Sami. You can’t help but fall in love with the sweet introduction, contrasting the slight rock elements of Judge Me, Flower’s On The Ground accents Sami’s folk style. Throughout the entire EP Sami includes some intoxicating lines that restore my faith in the pop industry today. For instance, “you wear my shoes, you wear them all the time. But you’ll never really understand” revolves around a tiresome cliché however Sami words it in a way that restores its initial vivacity. I have a particular love for the juxtapositions that are intricately scattered throughout. What’s more, it is the most realistic interpretation of the uncertainty of a new love through lines such as “don’t need a reason to say I miss you, I don’t want you back in case I don’t”. Defying typical pop songs whilst still appealing to a mainstream audience. Again, my favourite part of the song has to be the last chorus due to its extremely minimal arrangement with pretty much just the vocal and another delayed harmony.
Track Three: Show The World
|It’s THAT guy you keep seeingaround Brighton.
Now time for the track that christens the EP. Large expectations for this as Sami himself described this as being “something special”. And that’s exactly what this track is. Notably being the most obvious one revolving around the theme of following your dreams no matter what. Whilst maintaining the acoustic ambiance found in the folk genre, remaining simplistic and hopeful. Moreover, the space within the song fashions a mesmerising quality that hypnotises the listener at the crucial half waypoint of the EP. Remember those killer lines I referred to? Sami works his magic again with the evocative lyric of “like a cigarette in a spiders web” and “you’re heart holds the answers you don’t understand”. However one of the most fascinating lines is the chorus hook of “show the world how you grow old” personally I find it a intriguing way to summarise this message of follow your dreams and show them just what you’re capable of. Again this man is a master of concluding songs, particularly by ending this with just vocals, mirroring the vulnerability of the message.
Track Four: Hurt To Remember
They say first impressions are key in any situation. First impression of Hurt To Remember is that it is very Beatles-esk. I don’t know if that is a compliment or offense for Sami but I regard it to be a compliment of the highest. However, the Beatle ambiance created within the opening immediately entwines with Sami’s Noel Gallagher’s vocal techniques, giving birth to a remarkable sound. One thing about this song’s chorus is that it has sure as hell as been stuck in my head since first listen. Piece of trivia for you, this is the only song to begin with the chorus hook – the strongest part of the song – this on the one hand could be risky as the songwriter has to maintain this intensity (which Sami does well) but on the other hand it is a technique encouraged in the pop industry – hook the audience as soon as you possibly can. Again Sami marries binary opposites, while the songs content seems to be more bleak then others off the EP it still manages to appear hopeful and uplifting, which mirrors the lyrical transition in the song its self. For instance, “does it hurt to remember all the places we spent together” to “look up to the sky and recognise myself once again”.
Track Five: Runaway
Ahhh Runaway. By far my favourite track off the EP! Fell in love with this upon first listen. No surprise really as this is the ‘rebel track’. The one that doesn’t quite follow social conventions created by the other four. The one your parents don’t want to meet…okay maybe that’s a bit too far…anywayyyysssss. This song is the rockiest yet maintaining its strong folk style, however the spoken word bridge further accents Sami’s extremely diverse influences and ability to compose for different genres. What’s more, compared to his melodic vocal delivery in other songs, Runaway is far more rhythmic again making it that bit more intriguing. Furthermore, the chorus is huge. There is no other way to describe it. Fascinatingly it depends on the backing vocals to carry it, with the lead vocal interjecting here and there. It juxtaposes all that Sami has presented us with so far. Would have felt out of place if it were located anywhere else in the track list.
Sami demonstrates his talent as a songwriter by composing intricate melodies and intelligent lyrics in a way that is simple yet endearing to digest. He marries the hard truth of folk with a pop package that makes the songs enjoyable to pretty much any audience. The folk is strong in this one…any one? Ah come on that was tastefully horrific! Give me some credit here! Fine. Be that way then. Sami states that he is pure and honest in his delivery, I can confirm that as being true, he certainly favours message over fancy representation. Listen for yourselves: https://samijames.hearnow.com
I am truly gutted that I couldn’t witness a live rendition of the EP at Dovehouse’s single launch. However I will be keeping my eye on what the future has instore for Mr James. I will be there to inject the juicy details into your hearts and minds. Giving you the greatest rush you could possibly wish for.
Until next time,
Follow Sami James below:
Access Treble With The Bass interview here