Samia, the New York-based artist, has released a video for “21,” her latest single for Grand Jury. Watch here. The single is available digitally now.
Her ballads recall the low-lit charm of Tobias Jesso Jr or the hushed immediacy of Phoebe Bridgers. Her rock songs rev and howl with the intensity of Mitski or Hop Along. But whether the volume is up or down, 21-year-old New York native Samia draws from the same well of sharp-witted lyricism as forebears old and new — from Liz Phair to Patti Smith to Josh Tillman.
Tillman is a unique case. Name-checked in an early song of Samia’s called “The Night Josh Tillman Listened To My Song,” the Father John Misty frontman later discovered the send-up of his I Love You, Honeybear standout and has since professed his love for it online. Of course, it’s no surprise that her heros are falling for her. Samia is 21, but her songs aren’t. They’re 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.
Samia’s knack is unique to her 21 years: that ability to tap into youthful angst with a precocious wisdom we seem to lose as we get older. Take for example, “Django,” a tongue-in-cheek ode to the depth and fleeting nature of teenage sorrow, both drop-dead serious and total farce.
“I wrote most of Django at 17, crying in the bathtub, looking down at myself from above my body and finding the scene to be hilarious,” says Samia. “I had to use the humor in my sorrow; there was a lot of it. I’m not sure how much it comes through on the record but I really was trying to make fun of myself.”
But while self-deprecation runs rampant through her slowly growing catalog of a half-dozen songs, her lyrics absolutely singe when they find targets worthy of their fire. “Someone Tell The Boys” is a timely anthem and a blistering takedown of the mindlessness of macho mansplainers. “I have anecdotes to offer, they won’t do much for this gentleman, cause his every thought’s a sacrament and his every word’s been said,” she seethes in one verse. “Someone tell the boys they’re not important anymore,” goes the chorus.
Meanwhile, on “21” Samia turns her sights inward, wrestling with her own self-image, cider in hand. “I weigh a hundred and fucking something pounds,” she sings. “That makes me almost good. It is nice to be a hero, but it’s better to be anything that anyone could want in a woman.” But only moments later, she seems to reconsider her sentiment, boiling over with indignation, “You don’t have to be an ingenue and there is nothing wrong with you as long as you make your family proud.”
“I was worried during the year leading up to my 21st birthday because I’d always thought there was something I should have figured out by then.” says Samia. “It was really liberating to turn 21 without having figured that out; I was happy knowing that I had a lot of love in my life and was doing my very best.”
It’s safe to say that, for now, Samia’s very best will do just fine.
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