|1||Why Do I Go||4:14|
|2||Rush Of Wheels||4:11|
|3||Supposed To Say||3:40|
|4||Nothing To Know||3:36|
|5||Dylan's Third Verse||3:46|
Born in New York City and named after Dylan’s Vision of Johanna, Samuels subsequently moved to LA and grew up on the classic songwriters of yesteryear (Young, Petty, Morrison) before finding her way to Elliott Smith and Jon Brion, both of whom had a huge impact on her writing. Samuels then spent the best part of a decade honing her craft, carefully peeling away the layers until she found herself here; a stark, absorbing, and, yes, visceral new collection that is her strongest and most honest work to-date.
Finding a way to balance bright pop melodies with a drifting sense of melancholy that can’t be placed, Samuels made the most of a bad year, writing the EP as a reaction to her longterm relationship falling apart. “So much of the record is about loss of love - really the loss of myself,” she explains. “I really lost a grasp on who I was and it truly broke me. Exploring the idea of identity in relationship was important to me. The songs also come out of me figuring out how to exist within a new-found strength instead of grasping for love or the idea of it.”
More than just skin-and-bone, the songs here are comprised of lap steel, clarinet, Juno analog synthesisers, and more, and this rich instrumentation provides a swaying and elegant back-drop which helps bring Samuel’s stories beautifully to life. Recorded with musical partner, the up and coming producer Sean O’Brien (who helped engineer The National’s Sleep Well Beast LP) the new EP was created in his studio, which became something of a haven for Samuels and the work she was creating. As such, the five songs on Have A Good One are full of emotional and musical depth, each moment of darkness acutely balanced by a brightness that lifts these songs out of a shadows and into the hearts and minds of the listener.
These two elements are the ying-and-yang of Samuels work, and nowhere is this better epitomised than on the record’s opening two songs. Lead track ‘Why Do I Go There?’ is a bold, glowing opener, the playful piano and lush instrumentation belying the sense of heartache in Samuels beautifully lilting voice, driving the track forwards as it softly buries its way into your consciousness.
Then comes the tender, country-like balladry of ‘Rush Of Wheels’, written quickly in the dead hours of night, it presents a poignant quest for answers, aching under the weight of its emotional turmoil; sad and oh so beautiful.
Accompanying ‘Rush Of Wheels’ is a video that Samuel’s made with best friend (and Sundance Grand Jury prizewinner) Anu Valia. Inspired by the hour at which the song was written, the stunning film was shot with just the two of them, alone on a beach at sunrise, before the rest of the world had woken up. A stunning counterpart to the song itself, the film is a testament to art and music as a shared experience; to friendship and growth; to this special new chapter in the life and times of Johanna Samuels.
Johanna Samuels is fourth signing to Basin Rock, a relatively new label based in the Lancashire / Yorkshire border town of Todmorden) who has released albums by Julie Byrne, Nadia Reid and Jim Ghedi.