Music That Helped Us Through The Summer, Part 5: Sam Wills
As a serious vinyl buff, I always look out for release dates of current and forthcoming albums. Sometimes, the vinyl version is out even before any streaming services. Other times, the vinyl version of an album includes several bonus tracks which you can’t download or stream. In the case of Sam Wills and his fabulous debut “Breathe”, which came out last June, I just found out that the vinyl version will be available as of December 10th. Included are all 15 tracks, several of which came out as singles as early as last year. The UK singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Hastings is one of the most interesting artists of the neo-soul indie movement. His songs simply ooze soul with a pop sensibility that is both enchanting and deeply satisfying.
There are so many little things to explore on his debut, like the highly effective backing vocals on “Night Drive”, or the 80s keyboards and synth sounds on “Curious”. His flawless falsetto can be exceptionally entrancing, like on the opening title track; his real voice sexy and tender on “Traingazing”, where he is joined by singer Honey Mooncie. Musically rich and diverse, smooth and sassy, tracks like “Talk In The Morning” or “Undercover” easily bring Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei to mind, the former London-based, the latter also based in London after leaving his New Zealand and Australian home turf. Actually, Sam can be heard on the 2015 Misch album “Beat Tape 2” on “In The Midst Of It All”. And he has also opened for Jordan on a 2019 US tour.
Deserving much more recognition and at least as much as both Tom and Jordan, Sam Wills probably comes closest to Jordan on the brilliant “Hold Tight”, a midtempo soul jam with an irresistible hook and so much class and fervor that is much too rare in the music world. The amalgamation of soul, r&b, jazz, and hip hop has never sounded more convincing and charming than on this set with pieces like “Lay Down” for example. There is a deeper than deep soul and neo r&b stance on “Dimension”.
This future soul phenom, who has also worked with Jorja Smith and Disclosure in the past, is at his sensual best on the dreamy “Open Water”. One of the most charming characteristics of the album is the combination of heavy synth sounds and acoustic timbres, like on the thrilling “Turn Back”. Can’t wait to see the vinyl, which also boasts with a pretty attractive cover, come out on December 10th.