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Review: ‘Honey’ is a bittersweet confession

Photo courtesy Grand Jury Music

By Emelia Gauch     1/31/23 11:19pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: “Honey”

Recorded in the woods of North Carolina, Samia’s second studio album “Honey” is a confident, self-aware and unique addition to Samia’s growing discography. Dark and dreamy, “Honey” is an honest reflection on heartbreak, angst and feeling lost. 

The album opens with the song “Kill Her Freak Out” and a jarring confession: “I’ll fucking kill her, and I’ll fucking freak out.” Samia’s harsh honesty is balanced with a more vulnerable truth, “Can I tell you something? I’ve never felt so unworthy of loving.” Throughout “Honey,” Samia sets deep — sometimes grotesque — human emotions against personal confessions. The album speaks to a very strong desire present in all of us to feel loved for the most honest version of ourselves, but more shamelessly examines the insecurity and toxicity that can come along with this. 

Feelings of worthlessness are a common thread throughout the album’s first half. This part of the album is not consistent in lyrical quality, but is well produced with pleasant vocals. “Charm You” is very simplistic, yet the soft and pretty acoustics still create a satisfying listening experience. “Mad At Me” has a similar problem, but the uncomplicated lyrics are again supplemented by an upbeat ‘80s synth and bouncy energy. Even in her less lyrically strong moments, Samia crafts a song that listeners would want to listen to on repeat.

“Sea Lions” and “Pink Balloon” mark Samia’s reactions to relationships that are nearing their ends. Although they speak to similar topics, they take radically different paths. While Samia tries to make amends with her lover in “Pink Balloon,” she is banging on the door and screaming in “Sea Lions.” We move through her rage with her.

“Breathing Song,” the seventh track on the album, acts as a hinge between the sadness, rage and heartbreak present in the first half of the album and the glittering hopefulness of the second. “Breathing Song” is also one of the strongest songs, a brutal culmination of all the emotions present throughout the previous tracks. Touching on several challenging topics, from miscarriages to sexual violence, “Breathing Song” hurts. It left me breathless by the end, as Samia discusses maintaining a relationship with her sexual abuser and her desire to defend him when she discusses her assault. Listeners can feel her pain and ache with her. 

Although we are conditioned to forget about bad emotions, the ones that make us feel immoral or like bad people, Samia asks us to sit in them with her. It’s precisely this transparency that makes the transition from “Breathing Song” to “Honey” so cathartic. In each track from “Honey” to “Dream Song,” Samia accepts and recognizes the love around her. Together, we are “percolating, breathing, dancing, dying,” as she says in “Amelia.” “Honey” ends on a very strong note, and the lyrics of “Dream Song” are the best we’ve heard yet. The soft, acoustic finger-picking is the perfect background for a song that expands outside of Samia’s personal experiences to discuss nihilism, death, and most importantly, hope.

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