Medicine For My Brain’, his impossibly catchy calling card and first single from Sam’s forthcoming debut EP, is a witty kiss-off to the music industry, with a dazzling guitar accompaniment reminiscent of his heroes John Martyn and Ben Howard: “You say you don’t want my name / Well hell, I don’t need your fame / I’m happy to use my pain / It’s medicine for my brain.”
“I was very jaded at one point,” says Sam, who cut his teeth on the open mic scenes near his childhood home in Shropshire. “I wanted to write a chorus which is basically saying I don’t give a damn about the industry – which is ironic because that’s the very song that got me signed.”
Johnson’s songs acknowledge a darker kind of emotional turmoil – the “black dog calling my name”, as he puts it in Medicine – but he writes with a propulsive energy that suggests a sense of life-lessons constantly learned, and a feeling that music can ease your greatest challenges.
It’s a potent combination: a voice as big as George Ezra, and a sense of emotional resonance that has more in common with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Sam Johnson‘s upcoming debut EP, produced with multi-instrumentalist Elliot James, is the product of a period rather more intense than most people go through in their early twenties: the end of a six year relationship, and the passing away of a beloved father. Far from being a record of sadness, his thoughtful, ebullient debut captures a young man’s growing sense of who he is, vulnerability and all.
Sam is confirmed to support Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard at the Big Indie Summer Sessions in conjunction with The Line Of Best Fit on 31st July at Pop Brixton and ahead of that will be performing at Barn On The Farm festival Sat 6th July.