Over the past year, we’ve been following Swiss music-maker Sam Himself (aka Sam Koechlin) as he released banger after indie banger. It all started with ‘Never Let Me Go’, a charming organic imprint with a gorgeous Icelandic music video, but most importantly, an announcement of his second studio album. Following that first taste of what was to come, we kept coming back for more servings of his Fondue Western sound, that is his unique take on European indie-rock and Americana country, and Sam Himself delivered. There was the bittersweet nostalgia of ‘Golden Days’ with its laden synths, flurried drums and shoegazey strings, and then there was the 90s grunge and 80s rock undertones of ‘Mr. Rocknroll’.
Those three singles might have paved the way, but the real monument here is the album as a whole. Never Let Me Go was inspired by new beginnings and each of the tracks has its own perspective to add to the narrative. It starts with ‘Strangelove’, a guitar-forward upbeat number featuring Koechlin‘s distinctive half-droned vocal, hinting at his resistance to the new opportunities placed in front of him for fear that they won’t work out. By the second track, Sam Himself has already traded in caution for full-on trust with the feel-good ‘Baby’s Eyes’ – over catchy guitar riffs and joyful percussion, the artist celebrates finding love in the most unexpected on times.
We’ll skip over the familiar ‘Golden Days’ and ‘Never Let Me Go’ to track five, titled ‘My Great Escape’. Here, the band slows the pace right down to a love-drunk sway that’s more reminiscent of the country music that Sam Himself loves so much. It’s a real nice point of contrast on the album that shows how love and life is equally as laidback as it is energetic. Similarly, the song after ‘Mr. Rocknroll’ is ‘Left of Me’, another downtempo insert that perfectly melds Western cinema sounds with sauntering indie-rock, while the artist’s hushed vocals agonizes over the imagined end of a relationship.
One of the unmissable high points on the record has to be ‘Heartland’, the triumphant focus track built on continuous drum punches, animated bass and melodic, fuzzed-out guitars. The whole track trembles with excitement for the unknown, the future, the great beyond, that American dream. From there, and like a drop in adrenaline, we’re at penultimate track ‘Blue Mountain’, full of blues and bass that is a sombre moment of reflection before the album’s inevitable end.
And just like that, here we are at the tenth and final song – ‘You’. This slow-burning closer uses harmonious layers of atmospheric synths and gentle drum taps to create a meditative backdrop for Sam Himself‘s inner monologue. Somewhere between a ballad and a steam-of-consciousness, this final track is such a satisfying insight into the artist’s life as he falls deeper in love. We’re happy for the guy.
With all that said, we’ll let you listen to the ten-track record, which includes features from Chris Egan and Josh Warner, was produced by Daniel Schlett and mastered by Greg Calbi.
Never Let Me Go LP is out now and available to stream in full below.
We’ve also added ‘Heartland’ to our Indie Rockers playlist.
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