New Album Review

Scout by Samia EP Review

“Making it look easy is the hardest thing in the world to do” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

One of the best ways an album can be enjoyable to listen to is by sounding effortless. This works for any genre; being able to settle into a groove and make the listener think the carefully planned lyrics are just coming out in a stream of consciousness. Samia’s last album, 2020’s “The Baby,” thrived off this concept. Lines didn’t sound forced but like they flowed out under their own steam, taking center stage over minimal and light instrumentals. This wasn’t an album that clicked with me right away, but a year later, it’s stayed in my music rotation and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It managed to walk that very thin line between trying too hard and sounding lazy. This is a very difficult balancing act, and it’s one that at times hurt “Scout” but kept its true potential in check.

One thing it got perfectly right was its choice of the lead single. “Show Up” has been one of my favorite songs of the year and one that perfectly captures this spirit of effortlessness. It tells a vaguely defined story, name-dropping characters we don’t hear from again, to draw the listener into its world before hitting us with its understated and inspirational chorus. The ability for Samia to pull narratives from conventional song structures and not feel like it was forced in is a highlight of the EP and Show Up was the best example of that.

Ironically, the other highlight was the song that ditched the understated feel the most and went big with hard-hitting drums and a strong vocal feature, “The Promise.” This made no effort to hide its best qualities and was some of the most immediate fun I’ve had with a Samia song.

The other two tracks weren’t bad by any means, but they had some issues that require a separate category to mention. “As You Are” had a vocal sample at the beginning that lasted for far too long and got in the way of the actual singing. These kinds of choices jump out to me. I really don’t know why that was played as long as it did, and consistency is a big part of why I like any song, so having something irksome like that is when I tend to look at a song less favorably. It, along with the other track “Elephant,” also ran into the issue of trying to mimic a style rather than go for something different. It’s not too egregious, as it is her style, but both of those songs to me felt like the weakest off “Scoutm” or maybe B-sides. Elephant” did come alive at the end with some neat wordplay and a well-executed chorus but it just didn’t grab my attention that way I’ve come to expect from Samia’s discography.

I was probably a little too hyped coming into this EP. While of course EPs aren’t a bad art form, in my experience I tend to prefer an artists’ album output. “The Baby” was intimate, gripping and meditative, but most of all it was surprising, a debut album that absolutely blew me away. “Scout” was a strong EP and follow-up, but it just couldn’t surprise me like her previous release. Now her next album though…

– Erie Mitchell