Review Summary: An exercise in teary-eyed frivolity
Opener ‘As You Are’ plays its hand in its first few seconds: a simple bass/drum foundation; a light hand falling carefully—uncertainly—across the buttery keys of a too-quiet piano. The song is bookended by two voicemail recordings: one from Samia’s partner, the other from her parents. The first (from her partner) is woven into the first verse, but ends abruptly pre-chorus; the second, accompanied by synthetic strings, plays the song out.
Samia, twee as ever, fits all too snugly into the song’s front pocket. It’s nice-sounding. The voicemail recordings do little for the song itself; the first in particular feels forgotten about less than a minute in, and ought to have been dragged out, uncomfortable as that might have been. They serve, though, ultimately as an introduction to the EP’s major themes, particularly the love Samia feels for the people around her.
The biggest problem with ‘As You Are’ isn’t that it’s simple; it’s that its basic foundations—its songwriting, and what it sets up with that songwriting—are dragged across not only the first of the EP’s four choruses (all equally understated) but into and throughout the rest of Scout
, and what feels like will be the rest of the singer’s career. Dragged with them is a penchant for the overly delicate.
By which I mean: Like her 2020 debut The Baby
, Samia’s Scout
, though pretty, lacks depth. Not a song breaks the four-minute mark; nor do any of them reach for anything truly climactic, let alone epiphanic.
The EP’s closer, a cover of one-hit wonder When in Rome’s wondrous one hit ‘The Promise’, is sonically distinct, incorporating a brief, but affecting climax and an '80s-sounding drum machine. It adds little, though, to the original outside of the prettification (i.e., sanitisation) of an already limp radio hit.
And yet: The songs on Scout
hit me harder than pretty much any other music this year. Because though it lacks depth, the music is
exceptionally pretty. And rather than epiphany, Samia finds satisfaction in brief, glittery moments of quiet revelation.
What little conflict is present, like on the EP’s best song, ‘Elephant’, in which Samia not only references being low, but actually seeks (for once) to depict lowliness, is presented in a way that almost immediately undercuts it. Yet even in spite of her sense of ironic, self-aware, sometimes self-conscious whimsy, Samia is nothing if not sincere. A singer yet to tap into anything of greater substance, but one comfortable enough to sing what she knows: Late night epiphanies. A soft, warm, movie-like haze. Love, gratitude, and a deep appreciation for the small moments of beauty in clarity, always somehow the clearest, the deepest, the most beautiful.