A Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, Johanna Samuels will release her debut, Double Bind, this July. Its poppy style was influenced by Samuels’ love of artists such as Elton John, Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, as well as contemporary melodic pop artists like Elliott Smith and Aimee Mann. The record deals with the discordance between the physical and mental worlds, and the idea that the mind is just a fantasy.
The album opens with “For You To Do,” a Sara Bareilles-like song which showcases Samuel’s distinct, retro-sounding voice. “Real Tragedies” is an eerie tune about failed romance and the slow descent into madness. “This Place” is much lighter in mood, even including what sounds like a ukulele and a steady drum beat. Toward the middle of the melody, the tempo increases and a keyboard is added to accent the peculiar lyrics. The title-track starts with strangely monotone, spoken lyrics, eventually morphing into music reminiscent of the Oompa Loompas’ singing from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. The closer, “Chanson,” sounds similar to the other melodies, and keeps the record consistent even as it ends.
Double Bind does get weird in some places, but also becomes endearing and surprisingly off-putting. However, it is a great effort for a debut, and shows that Johanna Samuels knows exactly who she is and what she wants to sound like. She showcases her unconventional lyricism and haunting voice, all the while setting her self apart from other modern pop artists.
In A Word: Idiosyncratic