Johanna Samuels — Double Bind
Location: Los Angeles, CA ~ Brooklyn, NY
Album release: US: 22 Jul 2014; UK: 22 Jul 2014
Record Label: Self–released
01 For You to Do 3:52
02 Real Tragedies 4:14
03 Please Say Some Good 3:50
04 From Above You 3:33
05 This Place 3:30
06 Double Bind 1:25
07 Your Door 3:23
08 Almost 2:28
09 Give It Up 3:36
10 Chanson 4:07
• All Compositions by Johanna Samuels
• Johanna Samuels
• Fen Ikner
• Ken Edelson
• Turner Stough
• Kelly Pratt
• Emily Holden
• Stephanie Brown
• Marie Page
• Sean Pierce
• Produced and Engineered by Fen Ikner
• Mastered by Alex DeTurk
• Photography by Sean Ryan Pierce
• Cover photo styled by Maggy Frances Schultz
¶ 25–year–old Johanna Samuels broadens the definition of pop music. The melodically and lyrically focused singer–songwriter sings about the depths and dualities of life with her unique bell–like voice. Standing on the shoulders of the great musicians of the 1960's and 70's she manages to create a sound and sense of musical place that is completely her own. The native New Yorker grew up in Los Angeles, where from a young age she sang in school choirs and obsessively learned to play the songs of her musical heroes by ear.
¶ After moving back to New York at the age of 18, Samuels began writing her own songs alone in her bedroom. Soon after, she was playing solo shows at small downtown music venues like East Village’s Sidewalk Café.
¶ In 2012 she recorded and self–released a six–track EP, Giant Fantasy Life and assembled a 4–piece backing band. With her rapidly growing audience and her delightfully authentic performing style, she is one of most promising acts to spring from the New York independent music scene.
¶ In early spring of 2012 she set out to record her first full–length album, titled Double Bind. After recording basic tracks with the band at a quilt factory–turned–studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Samuels and drummer Fen Ikner, who produced Double Bind, finished recording wherever they could get the chance.
¶ The songs on Double Bind were written in Johanna’s apartment in Bed–Stuy, Brooklyn and all share a sentiment of necessary separation or as Samuels puts it “…attempting to own myself and stand on my two feet.” She explains, “While recording the album, a good friend had described the term Double Bind: a dynamic wherein two emotional demands are met but consequently negate each other, leaving one person to feel trapped. For some reason that struck a deep chord in me. It is from that place that many of these songs grew.”
¶ With her feet firmly planted, Johanna plans to stick around the only ways she knows how: earnestly pouring out her heart, soul and creativity in the form of ear candy for us all.
By Zachary Houle 21 July 2014; Score: 8
Stark and Terrifying
• New York artist Johanna Samuels has a knack for the overtly domestic violent imagery on her debut album Double Bind. On song “Please Say Something Good”, she warbles, “I dreamed I had daughter / She asked me how the breaking’s done / And I said / Watch the brother hit the sister / Now watch the mother slap the son.”
• At times reminiscent of the ‘70s singer–songwriter songbook of Laura Nyro, Double Bind is an affecting listen, even at its poppiest (“For You to Do”) and even when there’s a bare rendition of the title track in almost a cappella format. Overall, though, Double Bind is a gratifying listen that harkens back to the best of the singer–songwriter format of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
• Throughout the course of its 10 songs, clocking in at 35 minutes, Double Bind is harrowing and with a black disposition. Parts of it remind of Phil Spector–influenced recordings (“Real Tragedies”) with a hint of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper sprinkled throughout the record. However, there’s also an overriding sense of the giddily infectiousness in songs such as “From Above You” and “Your Door”. There’s certainly a dark and brooding quality to this album beyond what opening single “For You to Do” might suggest. And that also means that there’s a certain depth and maturity to these songs that makes them such a stimulating listen. The songs here are top drawer, the album hangs together as a whole, and it makes you wonder what else this artist is capable of. Still, what we get with Double Bind is a pretty awesome account and makes you eager to hear what else Johanna Samuels might have up her sleeve.
Dylan Ryan / Sand
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