Samia – Honey

A beautiful but emotionally challenging record...

On one level, Samia’s ‘Honey’ is a challenging, even bracing listen. Topics mentioned in the lyrics include – TW! – suicide, cold blooded murder, and a void of self-esteem. It is, to be honest, not exactly a barrel of laughs. Yet ‘Honey’ is also heart-stoppingly beautiful, engagingly melodic, and in an oblique but undeniable sense, pop. 

Crafted in North Carolina alongside Caleb Wright, it feels solitary, but its maker insists that ‘Honey’ is a “community record”. There’s little community to be found on startling opener ‘Kill Her Freak Out’, a song about being driven to murder your ex’s new partner by the black whole of jealousy. Astonishing, Samia locates empathy even in this jet black opening gambit, her voice gripping you with the words “I’ve never felt so unworthy of love…”

A song cycle about entering your mid 20s and realising that the answers are further away than ever, ‘Honey’ pivots between lyrical complexity and spartan, but endlessly pretty arrangements. Take the disarmingly simple acoustic strum of ‘Charm You’ for instance, or the frosted 80s style synths that power the alt-pop moves between ‘Mad At Me’.

The darkness, however, is never far away. A master of the opening stanza, Samia litters ‘Honey’ with heart-halting lines. The opening gambit from ‘Pink Balloon’ for instance, warns us that “your mom keeps threatening suicide” and goes deeper from there. 

Title track ‘Honey’ is a wonderfully rounded, three-dimensional experience, the enchantment of the vocal aligned to some of the record’s most nuanced instrumentation. Likewise the uplifting ‘Amelia’ pulls at the heartstrings in a similar manner to the maximalist pop that bedecked Maggie Rogers’ most recent LP.

Finding closure on the hazy Impressionist musicality of ‘Dream Song’, this isn’t an easy experience, but it’s certainly a beautiful one. In a pre-release note Samia referred to the project as the product of “learning to see the love around you” – in that way, you leave the world of ‘Honey’ much richer than when you entered it.


Word: Robin Murray

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