Every song from New York City’s Samia shows a poet’s gift for capturing the most private of experiences, a gritty specificity that leaves her lyrics carved right onto your heart. Her ballads recall a low-lit charm and her rock songs rev and howl with intensity. But whether the volume is up or down, Samia draws from the same well of sharp-witted lyricism as forebears old and new — from Patti Smith to Liz Phair to Josh Tillman.
Since making her debut with the 2017 single “Welcome to Eden,” the 22-year-old singer/songwriter has drawn acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, who praised her “searing accounts of feminist frustration and daily anxiety” and The FADER, who hailed her “raw, electric energy” and “knife-sharp lyricism”. In an especially meaningful feat for Samia, Father John Misty stumbled upon her single “The Night Josh Tillman Listened To My Song,” and promptly professed his love for it online.
Of course, it’s no surprise that her heroes are falling for her. Samia is only 22, but her songs aren’t. They are the sort of emotional tantrums and last-call thesis statements that feel like they’ve been there forever, just waiting for someone to come around and sing them.
Now with her new double A-side single “Lasting Friend”/“Paris,” Samia further proves her profound skill at transforming painful or ugly or entirely ordinary moments into something transcendent. The gloriously scrappy yet strangely tender “Lasting Friend” finds Samia building an unlikely anthem out of a complicated high school memory. “I have this party anecdote about how the boys in middle school used to line up in the gym and touch my boobs,” she recalls. “It’s as funny as it is difficult for me to grapple with, because it’s how I learned to measure my worth. I made a lot of friends that way and it’s hard to unlearn that routine; we were all trying to make sense of the roles we were assigned.” Backed by Brooklyn band Active Bird Community, Samia eschews any moralizing in favor of an understated but defiant repetition of the song’s key lyric (“I’m not ashamed of my past”).
For “Paris,” Samia strips back to a stark arrangement of acoustic guitar and fragile vocal work, centering the song on her point-blank storytelling (“I’m sorry I dragged you to Starbucks/I thought you were being too proud”), then closing out with a heartbreaker of a final line. Like “Lasting Friend,” “Paris” came to life in collaboration with producer Christopher Daly (Diet Cig, Porches), who helped instill the track with the austerity Samia had long intended. Samia adds “I went to Paris with someone towards the end of a relationship and spent the whole time failing to prove that I was European. I am not. Turns out it’s okay to be yourself, people will love you for who you are, etc.”
Now at work on her debut album, Samia is also set to tour with Donna Missal, with a mission of turning each set into a moment of pure catharsis.“When I play live, the most important thing for me is to provide a space for people to feel the same freedom that I do. It should be just as much about their experience as it is mine.”