by Molly Larson
In her second studio album, Honey, Samia tries to pull away from the “sad girl” aesthetic to dig deeper into her style and illustrate bittersweet emotions in a more complicated way. However, this attempted departure falls short. Honey feels like Samia leaned into the wrong parts of the style that felt so strong and promising in her debut, The Baby. The first track of the album, “Kill Her Freak Out,” is an intense opener that manipulates the time by emphasizing unexpected moments and coming in on syncopated beats. Yet as with much of the album, it feels like she is trying too hard to be interesting. making the intended emotionality feel hollow.
A standout track on this record is “To Me It Was.” This song feels warm and genuine, striking a chord in a unique way. Its instrumentation features gentle drums and a slide guitar – demonstrating the impact that living in Nashville the last couple of years has had on her sound. The richness of this influence shines throughout the record, a new layer that did not exist on her debut album that she wrote while living in New York City. The song ends with a voice memo of her mother singing her the song that Samia’s grandmother and namesake would sing to her. “To Me It Was” demonstrates that Samia has the ability to create tracks that are incredibly impactful and tell incredible stories with lyric; unfortunately, the majority of the album doesn’t capitalize on that same promise.
The whole work, and title track in particular, center around the concept of honey. In her bio on the website of her record company, Grand Jury Music, she explains that honey describes the feeling of being drunk, “this sort of viscous slow, thick, heavy feeling. It’s the feeling of being under this beautiful blanket of something without having to face reality.” Though some tracks are heavy, it is hard to place this feeling in the highly produced record.
Samia is young, with incredible vocal talent and a distinctive style. She utilizes strong, high vibrato and confessional lyrics and storytelling; sometimes this strikes the perfect balance for an emotional indie track that the listener can relate to while still wondering what exactly happened to inspire it. A few tracks on Honey – “Sea Lions,” “Dream Song,” and “To Me It Was” – strike this balance and show off her growth. Sadly, the rest of the tracks miss the mark and leave listeners wondering where Samia is going as an artist and what exactly she is trying to convey. Samia shows great potential as an indie artist who could join the ranks of Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, but Honey demonstrates that she still has a lot of growth to do before she truly finds her footing.