Fondue Western baritone Sam Himself shares soaring new single ‘Golden Days’
The Swiss, NYC-based indie rocker’s second album is set for release early 2023
“Born in Switzerland and bred in Gotham, Sam Himself has won accolades in his homeland but has aspirations to conquer the world.” - SPIN
“His deep, rich vocals remind us of the beauty that exists even during the darkest times.” - The Wild Honey Pie
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Switzerland’s King of Tears aka New York’s leading Fondue Western™ baritone, Sam Himself, presents ‘Golden Days’, the second single in anticipation of his sophomore LP (due out early 2023). The Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based indie rocker’s newest release is an epic slow-burner – full of energy and raw emotion free from pathos. Sam’s signature voice, by turns vulnerable and assertive, proves its impressive dynamic range, soaring from intimate whispers to arena-sized falsetto howls as the singer turns regret into resilience, trades defeat for defiance, and leaves nothing on the table.
For ‘Golden Days’, Sam Himself reunited with his longtime producer and “Second Beatle”, Daniel Schlett (Iggy Pop; The War on Drugs), whose category-defying mix was mastered by none other than Greg Calbi (David Bowie; Bruce Springsteen). Sam’s musical “big brother” and studio collaborator of many years, bass player JD Werner (Ghostface Killah; Lee “Scratch” Perry), added to the musical composition, making it the first Sam Himself track co-authored by another artist – and an unbridled celebration of musical community to boot. Drummer Chris Egan (Blood Orange; !!!) did his part to blow the roof off the party, which was recorded at producer Schlett’s Strange Weather Studio in Brooklyn, Sam’s creative homebase since the inception of his solo project.
It’s been less than a year since his debut LP Power Ballads (a “well-crafted set of atmospheric post-punk” – KEXP) broke Sam Himself onto the international stage. It was his first national album chart entry, radio airplay across Europe and the U.S. (as recently as May 2022, KCRW declared one of Sam’s songs Today’s Top Tune) and was nominated for two Swiss Music Awards. Few would blame the artist for taking a quick nap to rest on his laurels
However, wasting time isn’t part of the repertoire of the songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist. Sam’s prolific output speaks for itself: prior to Power Ballads, the “smokey baritone” (Under The Radar) was already buzzing thanks to Slow Drugs (2020), the EP he released shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19. At the time, Sam was touring in Europe; then the pandemic pulled the plug on live music, the world as we knew it – and Sam’s plans to return to New York City, his chosen home of the previous decade. The resulting shock, solitude and sense of powerlessness inspired Sam Himself’s sardonically titled debut, Power Ballads.
The artist’s new material, by contrast, brims with renewed hope and the promise of a reopening world, where it’s once again possible to record and perform together. At the studio, Sam & Co. marked the occasion by recording the bulk of ‘Golden Days’ live in one room; the song’s music video is decidedly less subtle in its excitement. In keeping with the beautifully weird aesthetic that has come to define Sam’s visual language, the video pays tribute to heroically cringy Country Western TV specials of yore, frequent stomping grounds for such greats as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and many more of Sam’s heroes. We witness Sam, with a little help from his friends and touring band members Benjamin Noti (Steff la Cheffe; Endo Anaconda) and Georg Dillier (Anna Rossinelli), concoct a schlocky sendup of showbiz cliché, performative nostalgia and – of course – himself.
Like any parody worth its salt, the ‘Golden Days’ video comes with a hearty side of homage, too, says Sam, who was on a strict Country music diet when he wrote the song:
“I definitely didn’t plan to cut an entire album when I went back into the studio earlier this year, but the initial session went so well, we walked out with just under ten songs. On a whim, I asked Daniel for more dates before everyone was gonna be busy again for months. He was all for it, provided that I had more songs ready to record - which of course I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me. I bluffed, the dates went on the calendar and just like that, I had about a week to write two whole songs from scratch. I got the chorus for ‘Golden Days’ together pretty quick, but I heard it as a more of a slow, Western ballad type of thing; I’d just been on tour, meaning days and days in the van listening to nothing but Country – ask my band, they love it! – so all I could come up with was, like, Patsy Cline! Luckily for me, JD (Werner) is a prolific songwriter in his own right who just makes stacks of demos at all times! I told him about my conundrum, he offered to show me some of the material he’d been working on. The very first demo he shared gave me the instrumental parts for the verses and those beautiful guitar themes. Then all I had to do was write some words, find a vocal melody, speed up my Country chorus and that’s how we made ‘Golden Days’.”
Appropriately for a track that all but begs to be played live, ‘Golden Days’ appears as Sam is set to announce a major tour across Germany and Switzerland, with stops in Austria, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe (US dates TBA) in support of his upcoming second album, including his second collaboration with the Basel Symphony Orchestra in October.
As featured by KCRW, KEXP, SPIN Magazine, Consequence of Sound, Under The Radar, American Songwriter, The Philadelphia Globe, FLUX.FM (GE), radioeins (GE), DIFFUS Magazin (GE), FIP Radio (FR), Les oreilles curieuses (FR), Swiss National Radiotelevision SRF (CH), Danger Mouse Jukebox, 20 Minuten, BZ - Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, and many more.
Source Olivia Rayner
September 16, 2022 2:28am ET by Olivia Rayner