Realising you’ve been sleeping on an important new artist is a tough, but sweet pill to swallow. While you may have missed their journey up til now, you suddenly find yourself bathing in a sea of incredible music, you only wish you’d heard months or years ago. Although Howl & Echoes has written about him previously, Samm Henshaw‘s new release The Sound Experiment II is the first time I’ve listened to the artist – but it won’t be the last.
Knowing little of Henshaw’s past didn’t matter; I was enthralled by this EP. The record is upbeat, soulful and mood enhancing from start to end. Given his soulful take on sou, blues and gospel, it’s unsurprising that he’s been selected to open for Chance the Rapper on his upcoming UK tour. The Sound Experiment II is the follow up to his first EP, similarly titled The Sound Experiment released last September, which saw him named ‘One To Watch’ for 2016 by Spotify and Google Play, among others.
The first track, Our Love, shows off Henshaw’s impressive vocal ability. Immediately, I thought of Otis Redding, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean, and maybe a little Marvin Gaye. His style in this first track is very fitting for the track’s subject matter, a couple who have fallen in love and won’t let anything get in the way. Henshaw said the track was inspired by his parents’ relationship and how his dad’s family didn’t approve, but he didn’t care.
The second track (and second single) is the soulful and uplifting These Hands. The piece is written as a reminder to himself, that honing his craft and creating his identity is up to him alone, and that it’s more than achievable if he puts the work in. A beautiful and thoughtful track that is sure to inspire and uplift anyone who is feeling stuck or in a lull on whatever it is they are doing. Lyrics aside, The deep bass and soulful backing vocal make it a pleasure to play through my speakers.
Night Calls is probably my favourite track on the EP, as Henshaw’s vocal talent really shows, unveiled and accompanied by a stripped back guitar. The track is a lot slower and softer than the rest, but makes for a stunning showcase of just how talented Henshaw is. The last minute of the song picks up in tempo and Henshaw really proves that he is one of the most talented singers of recent times.
Track four, Chances, is a radio-ready song that resembles something you might hear on Triple J. Not saying that the song is a ‘type’ or any less worthy of Henshaw’s voice, but it does stand out as a little more commercial than the rest of the EP. This is followed by EP closer Easy, where Henshaw’s voice resembles John Legend’s, and Easy seems a fitting name for the final song.
Henshaw has effortlessly showcased all aspects of his talent, from hitting those high notes in These Hands to stripping back and displaying his emotions in Night Calls. He is far from type cast – his voice would be suited to anything from soul and R&B to country, and, hopefully hip-hop – we’d especially love to hear him working with rappers in future. Henshaw will be supporting Chance The Rapper on his upcoming UK and European tour, and with any luck, the two will collaborate and bring their talents to Australia.