Sam Owens, stage name Sam Evian, brings us his sophomore record. You, Forever is a collection of gentle and supple tracks that easily nudge their way into your mind. Nothing on the record is overtly complex, just the way Owens wanted it. You, Forever is an ode to you, to all of us and the fact that we are who we are, forever. In the words of Owen:
“This is you, forever: deal with yourself,” he says. “It’s about accepting that you are responsible, that you are in charge of your actions. Everything that happens to you is because of you; no matter what happens, go there and learn from it.”
He approached writing and recording the album in parallel with the over all meaning of the record. Embracing who he was as a musician, he grabbed his family’s old instruments and wrote the entire album in his hometown in North Carolina. Just the way Owens describes owning up to your actions and accepting responsibility, he went about recording the album. In a rented house in upstate New York, his band mates Brian Betancourt (bass), Austin Vaughn (drums), Adam Brisbin (guitar), and Hannah Cohen (backup vocals) recorded You, Forever sans pedal tuning. Again, falling in line with the theme of the record, Owens made everyone in his band own up to their standards as musicians by removing a device that he felt made everything just sound too good and not real enough. The result is a work of art that is honest and approachable but not superficial.
The album opens with my favorite track on the record, “IDGAF.” I am not one to keep up with all the acronyms kids use these days but I get this one. If you don’t know what it stands for, listen to the song, it’s implied in the chorus. The track introduces you do the entire notion of the record, of accepting and owning yourself. Throwing your hands up, giving into yourself and saying:
I don’t care, I don’t care anymore,
Not like before
I don’t care, I don’t have to care anymore!
My one qualm with the track is that it’s over too soon. That being said, he IS able to pack in a fantastic underlying guitar melody that reels you in, a gentle build with chiming classic keys and a message that resonates. He certainly leaves you wanting more.
In stark contrast is “Health Machine” a head bobbing, rhythmic piece that is fully equipped with a gnarly saxophone exit. Comedically, the track is centered on our bodies and the chaos we put them through. About the track Owens says:
“It’s about the unattainable health that I would like to imagine for myself on tour. The line ‘We slither out on a Tuesday feeling tired and hopeless’ is such a hilarious picture: four people in a minivan slithering out of Atlanta, Georgia, stopping at a CVS and getting a bunch of Zicam. Health is your job if you’re touring as a musician, although it’s a job I don’t do so well.”
In todays world, we’re all trying to be good at a million things or maybe one thing, like being in a successful touring band like Owens. Regardless, we end up driving our poor bodies into the ground and if we’re lucky, we can keep our minds above the surface! “Health Machine” is another prominent example of how Owens can bring your attention to mundane topics of life like health and self-responsibility but do it in a way that makes you want to take some extra time to consider these topics.
Continuing to keep his listeners on their toes on this record, Owens delivers a nearly 5 minute ballad that slowly dissolves into an organized mess of instruments in the form of the track, “Anybody.” Immediately following is a delicate piece titled, “Apple”, not even two minutes in length. And from there he tugs you into “Country.” The track literally sounds like a road trip or a train chugging along down the tracks and that is just what it’s about. Many of the tracks on the album were lyrically inspired by a road trip him and his girlfriend (Hannah Cohen – back up vocals) took across the country.
Photo Credit Clockwise: Josh Coleman, Shervin Lainez, Josh Coleman
The latter half of the record is more swaying than the top of the album. It includes pieces like the title track, “You, Forever.” The meat of the track opens up to a glorious instrumental jam and that’s where it stays for the rest of the track. It’s the instrumental representation of, “This is you forever, deal with yourself.”
You, Forever is out on June 1st on Saddle Creek and you can catch him touring this June:
Sam Evian Tour Dates:
Thu. June 7 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott *^
Fri. June 8 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *^
Sat. June 9 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd ^
Sun. June 10 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook ^
Tue. June 12 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt ^
Wed. June 13 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
Thu. June 14 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
Fri. June 15 – Millville, PA @ Mr. Small’s ^
Sat. June 16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s ^
* = with Katie Von Schleicher
^ = with Buck Meek