Sam Owens's calling card as a songwriter has always been his relentless versatility. As frontman of the now-on-hiatus trio Celestial Shore, the Brooklyn-based artist and studio engineer persistently twisted pop melodies into odd time signatures and math rock arrangements with a joyful adventurousness. Now, performing as Sam Evian, he finds inspiration in the timelessness of 70s soft-rock, which pervades his psychedelic 2016 debut solo album Premium. It's the kind of slow-burning full-length that has more in common with Jackson Browne's For Everyman or George Harrison's All Things Must Pass than any quirky art-rock impulses.
On his latest single "I Remember," which Noisey is premiering below, Owens doesn't reinvent his sound again so much as he hones in on the trippy strengths of his debut. It's anchored by ominously chiming guitars and a mesmerizing groove, which Owens says over the phone was inspired by Sly and the Family Stone's 1973 Fresh opener "In Time." He tells me, "After Premium came out, my band and I put 20,000 miles on the car this year playing shows. Because of the live set, I started writing differently and wanted to serve up something juicier: more straightforward guitar songs."
Where "I Remember" really shines is the songwriting. Later in the track, Owens's pristine falsetto coos, "I had a fear of living this way / so isolated / and I'm still here but I'm running away / the body separated." He explains, "I wanted to write a song kind of about how much I struggle with screen time and my digital self. The way I lead my life day-to-day is all so heavily based off of correspondence and interaction with the internet." He's quick to point out that he's not trying to be a Luddite but adds, "I get self-conscious about it because I think I'm becoming a worse person from all the hyper-communication."
"I Remember" is part of the two-song collaborative Need You EP with former the Curtains and Cryptacize frontman Chris Cohen, which the duo recorded over five days in February at Cohen's Los Angeles studio. Though it won't appear on Owens's follow-up to Premium, which is almost finished, he does tell me it'll serve as a placeholder between the two full-lengths.
Preorder it here and be sure to catch Sam Evian on tour. The Need You EP is out October 6 via Saddle Creek.
10/03 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
10/04 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
10/05 - Raleigh, NC @ Kings
10/06 - Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
10/07 - Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl
10/09 - Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
10/10 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
10/12 - Austin, TX @ Cactus Cafe
10/13 - Dallas, TX @ Three Links
10/16 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
10/18 - Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
10/18 - Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
10/20 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
10/21 - Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
10/23 - Portland, OR @ Doug FIr Lounge
10/24 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza