Review: Samia confesses all in ‘Honey’

Samia’s sophomore album is an exciting experiment in absolute honesty.


Aaliya Luthra

Singer-songwriter Samia’s sophomore album “Honey” is explicitly honest. (Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Audrey Abrahams, Contributing Writer

There’s an ugly side to everyone’s personality. We usually struggle to hide our darkest thoughts and spontaneous explosions of emotion, but in Samia’s sophomore album “Honey,” these unspeakable feelings become the hook of “Kill Her Freak Out,” the opening track.

The chorus proclaims, “I hope you marry the girl from your hometown / And I’ll fucking kill her / and I’ll fucking freak out,” introducing the listener to what makes this album unique — Samia’s ability to wield her vulnerability like a knife. With anecdotal lyrics that eventually form a full narrative, “Honey” is an album that deserves all the attention its startling first track grabs. 

“Honey” maintains the storytelling feel of Samia’s 2020 album “The Baby,” which explored her experience growing up in the entertainment industry. But this time she brings a little less coming-of-age angst. Where “The Baby” is compelling with its dramatized narratives, “Honey” gives the whole messy truth, prioritizing honesty above all else. Samia writes about real people and, in an interview with Nylon, she revealed that she used their real names. Every song is littered with ultra-specific references to music and memories. When she mentions a “Pink Balloon,” the “St. Paul Police Department” or “June, 7 p.m.” across various tracks in the album, it sounds as if she’s letting secrets slip.

The central theme of the album is neatly encapsulated by a line from track 10, “Amelia,” when the artist sings, “Walking into the middle of the party / I’m writing a poem, somebody stop me.” During the 11 tracks of “Honey,” Samia dances around, trying to lose herself by turning to constant drinking and partying. Memories and sadness perpetually resurface, though. Many songs have a childlike, lullaby feel that mocks her own naivete as she tackles dark thoughts. She blends these worlds beautifully in the title track, singing, “I wanna go to the beach and die on the beach / I wanna be a mermaid.”

After repeated listens, details from songs that fell flat at first started to make more sense. The songs’ production maintains the standard of honesty set by the lyrics. The rhythms and melodies don’t seek to dramatize or persuade, but rather mirror the reality of the experiences that the songs recount. Every choice feels very deliberate. This makes the songs less captivating on first listen, but they become much more powerful with time.

The emotional peak of the album is the traumatic “Breathing Song” in which Samia recounts an experience with  horrified awe, singing, “It was just like a movie.” The lyrics are less vague than those in other songs on the record, and though she does not say it explicitly, it becomes clear that the song is about sexual assault. A chorus of refusal, as she sings “no, no, no / no, no, no,” weaves between the verses that tell the larger story. Samia, on top of being a gifted songwriter, has a very powerful voice. It is sweet and smooth, and pairs well with the rolling, loose structure of her lyrics. In “Breathing Song,” Samia’s voice has a pained cadence, almost as if she is crying out the words. The song ends with something her friend says: “Samia, why would it matter / what happened after you said ‘no, no, no / no, no, no.’” In the last three words, the background music cuts out, and her voice turns to a visceral shriek — demanding the listener’s undivided attention. 

Samia’s writing fits perfectly into the vulnerable, sad girl zeitgeist of today’s music. With major artists like Taylor Swift and SZA fixating on their insecurities and struggles in their lyrics, relatability is an increasingly important currency in songwriting. The fourth track of this album, “Mad At Me,” exemplifies this phenomenon masterfully, with its upbeat chorus that begs “Are you still / mad at me?”

Samia doesn’t act like she’s figured anything out in her lyrics, and if there’s one central message, it’s to feel your feelings. From the misplaced rage of “Kill Her Freak Out” to the indulgently nostalgic “To Me it Was,” she builds a self-deprecating timeline of waxing and waning feelings in “Honey.”

Contact Audrey Abrahams at [email protected].