The debut album from Samia is one of the better pop songwriter releases of the year. The Baby is a coming of age story that shares nuanced views on the whirlwind of emotions that encompasses the young adult life. The record covers a wide variety of genres, from pop, alt-rock, to electronic and indie.
This variety enables Samia to express herself freely while also making the record an enjoyable musical experience. Instead of leaning so much into pop, Samia experiments with various sounds and structures to support her poetic and story-focused songwriting style without compromising in its radio friendliness.
And there are a lot of really good stories within these songs, ranging from personal experiences and feelings to even social commentaries. In the opener “Pool”, Samia sings about love and vulnerability over aqueous chimes and sax flourishes. “Fit N Full” touches on the trappings of diet culture via head-bobbing pop rock. Its catchiness obscuring the song’s ironic undertone. In “Big Wheel”, she explores her aversion to conflict in a few different instances with friends. Asking herself if she should stand up for herself more or just let things go for fear of damaging these relationships.
Samia’s vocal performance is also a big highlight in this album. Her range is average, but the flexibility of her falsetto gives these songs the weight and gravitas that they deserve. Perfect for songs that dive deep into complex emotions like pain and loneliness. Cuts like the melancholic “Stellate” and dreamy “Winnebago” benefit from this most of all.
But by far my favorite performance is in “Does Not Heal” where she talks about the willingness to experience pain for someone with a haunting twist : “After I cut up my thigh climbing over the fence with you / Brave and unnatural, already shrouded in reds and blues / I was so scared I had tetanus, I checked on it every night / Purple and yellow, the pregnable skin was so coarse and tight” Her voice weaves through highs and lows, which gives the gut-wrenching imagery even more punch.
The album closes with “Is There Something In The Movies”, which is refreshingly profound for a young artist. In it, Samia laments her disillusionment with the entertainment industry : “I carried around a stuffed pig in my arms / And I did it until I was five / I got it from someone who died of attention / And lived an extraordinary life.”
At first listen I was of the frame of mind that “The Baby” is a record comparable to the works of Lorde or Billie Eilish. But the richness and the overall authenticity of this album has blown me away. Samia has the potential to be a Carole King or Joni Mitchell for this generation, and I for one am excited for her future.