Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Samia returns with revelatory clarity on Honey


Release date: 27 January 2023
Samia Honey Album Cover
23 January 2023, 09:00 Written by Tom Williams

Samia’s 2020 debut The Baby captured coming of age with expert precision; the magic and terror of facing so many firsts in such quick-succession and the harsh realities of adulthood colliding with the comforting truths we’d grown up with.

That album identified the core elements of Samia’s writing; she’s disarmingly forthright, endlessly empathetic and deeply sceptical of undue melodrama. Her most enduring trait, though, was her commitment to figuring out – or at least, attempting to untangle – life’s greatest hardships. On the stunning closer “Is There Something in The Movies?”– a dedication to family friend and late actress Brittany Murphy – she defined her particular brand of songwriting, “I only write songs about things that I’m scared of”.

The opener to Samia’s second full-length effort, Honey, finds her picking up where she left off, with another starkly desolate ballad, “Kill Her Freak Out”. It once again finds Samia quietly fearful but clear-eyed, as she confronts a heart-ache so immense it threatens the total inward collapse of her world. In the verses, she hones in on those small intimacies that represent our strength of feeling towards another more than any moments of grandeur ever could. She reminisces on drunkenly searching for a lost passport with the song’s protagonist and recalls her exact thought process then and now: “I thought about lying when I found my passport / Cause I would’ve stayed kinda drunk and afraid in your room / ‘Til I died in your room if you asked for it”. In the chorus, she contrasts what she can say to the song’s protagonist, versus what she really wants to: “I hope you marry the girl from your home town / And I’ll fucking kill her / And I’ll fucking freak out”. It surely makes for the album’s most shocking moment.

Though not explicitly billed as such, Honey can be seen as a loose concept album, tracing the journey from one’s early-to-mid 20s; as confidence gradually overtakes trepidation. Across the LP’s 11 tracks, a sense of revelation heightens. The album’s peppiest song, “Mad At Me”, offers an astute evaluation of why we try to hide from that which scares us (“Hiding is easy, it’s like a daydream / You can be nowhere all of the time”) while, the twin released “Pink Balloon” and “Sea Lions” represent those rock bottom moments that, in time, prove to be as revelatory as they were intensely painful. Both capture love in a state of disrepair; the former captures the dying embers of love’s illusion (“Sometimes when you sing to me / I still believe I know you”) and the moment at which its demise becomes undeniable. It all culminates in one tragic moment of realisation, as Samia admits, “I know exactly when it turned into an accident”.

“Sea Lions”, meanwhile, captures the blistering, screaming-on-the-lawn rage following the break-up, as well as moments of desperate bargaining. In the song’s final moments, a computer-generated voice delivers a litany of place names, adjectives, nouns and turns of phrase. It evokes the flash of memories purported to take place in the moments before death, thus implying the death of this relationship to be akin to an actual human death.

If Honey’s first half is largely preoccupied with devastation, much of its second-half is devoted to finding moments of magic in the everyday. On “To Me It Was”, a co-write with Christian Lee Hutson, Samia tries to find silver linings in a night out gone astray. The sardonic verses are emblematic of Hutson’s writing, but the repetitions of “To me, it was a good time” are pure Samia; representative of her optimistic disposition that makes her such a rarity in the modern indie rock world, as she tries to hold on to those fleeting moments of connection and grace.

One’s 20s are often billed as the best time of one’s life, but they’re also arguably the most turbulent; friends leave college, flit between jobs, disperse across the country and even the world, have children and get married. “Nanana” captures this turbulence and the magic of those moments where everything stands still for a moment. It’s filled with affecting vignettes of life’s most illuminating blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments; a friend's baby repeating your name, meeting a friend’s dad for the first time and being surprised that he likes you. Its most incisive moment comes in the form of an illuminating metaphor – “Some people see a cobweb hanging in the window / But you see a constellation” - that speaks to finding beauty in the mundane.

Honey culminates with the astonishing “Dream Song” – the most lyrically ambitious song that Samia has penned to date. The song begins humbly, with fingerpicked guitar backdropping tales of night swimming with a close friend. But what at first appears to be a humble tribute unfolds into an astounding meditation on humanity and mortality. The refrain of “you get your dreams for free” takes on an entirely new level of meaning after the second verse, when it’s preceded by the declaration, “there are six minutes of brain activity / before the body’s dead”. In the song’s final verse, Samia battles with nihilism (“Mother nature, wipe us out”) before finding comfort and wisdom in the cyclical nature of life, resulting in the album’s most compelling quatrain: “Are you scared to die? / The trick is don’t arrive / You can see it in your daughter’s eyes / That’s the purpose and the prize”. In moving away from the purely autobiographical towards worldlier wisdom, this moment stands apart from the rest of Honey – and from the rest of Samia’s discography more widely. Yet, it remains a fitting closer, because of what it has in common with the rest of the album – it is music capable of helping us to navigate the world around us, and within us, with greater clarity and depth of meaning.

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