Image of 'Honey' the album

Samia's sophomore album, "Honey," is a bitter, vulnerable and heart-wrenching indie-pop album. The album expresses an incredibly dark beauty with Samia's rich, dynamic vocals and subtle but perfectly-paired instrumentation.

While Samia's narrative lyrics make for a complete sense of the life of a woman deeply traumatized by love, the album's ability to move from rich and subtle mourning to bombastic fits of passion is in its production. "Honey" producer Caleb Wright takes all of these threads and weaves them into a textured and expressive soundscape that amplifies the emotional intensity of every moment. In addition, the album features an immense set of guest musicians that provide vocal and instrumental contributions to the rich textures of "Honey."

Each song on the album, through a mix of musical queues and lyricism, sets an emotional baseline and progressively ramps up the stakes through added context and intensity. The opening track and lead single for the album, "Kill Her Freak Out," serves as a bold opening statement. Samia begins, backed only by a single synth, reminiscing on the memories of a past relationship; her calm and sultry singing becomes sinister as she imagines killing her ex and his potential spouse. As she begins to panic, the music heightens before calming down as the threatening chorus becomes a calming mantra. 

Building on the smooth and emotive vibrato of her first album, released in 2017, "The Baby," Samia explores the higher reaches and deeper lows of her range. But, instead of hiding from this discomfort, she wears it on her sleeve. Using the trembling nature of her lower range to accentuate the deep melancholy of Pink Balloon and channeling mania through the shrill highs of her upper range on songs like "Mad at Me," the risks of going beyond your comfort zone are channeled back into the albums artistic ambitions, embracing its imperfections shamelessly.

Refrains like "No no no" on "Breathing Song" takes on a whole new gravity as the story of a troubled relationship becomes darker, going from tragic protestation to a bone-chilling scream, highlighted by an alarming dissonance suddenly haunting a very organic voice track. Samia effectively deploys this repetition many times throughout the album, bringing new meaning to themes and phrases as she piles on emotional context with every word.

The album effectively keeps the listener off balance, frequently changing instrumentation and styling even as it retains a unified sound. Mournful ballads with soul-changing endings fade into ironically upbeat songs about avoiding trauma and pain by papering it over with fantasy and escapism. 

Ultimately, the album settles its torrent of dark emotionality with a message of jaded resolution. Perfectly content to bask in its bitterness, the final entries on the album arrive at the consensus that good memories and fantasy, no matter how flawed or embittered, are the best one can hope for in the face of a future to be loathed, feared and mocked. 

The second entry in Samia's discography is an excellent continuation of her first album's themes and sound while embodying six more years of wounds and perspective. While the album's thematic and sonic precision comes at the cost of the dynamism and bombast of "The Baby," the result is a gorgeous and haunting beauty. While I hope future projects can allow her to explore greener pastures, I look forward to what she does next. 

Rating: 8/10