Live in Portland April 5, 2018 | Mississippi Studios
It probably comes as no surprise to those familiar with Sama Dams that their fourth release, Say It, is hard to pin down. Featuring a kaleidoscopic track list of songs that refuse to settle in one place for too long, Sama Dams finds success in an assortment of meticulously crafted songs that manage to spontaneous dissolve and rearrange before your very eyes. Err… ears.
While the trio’s excellent vocal and instrumental performances keep the album feeling filler-free, the most successful songs on Say It are the ones that keep listeners on their toes as to what comes next. Case in point: you-thought-it-was-saccharine album opener “Pockets” grabs the listener immediately as delicate vocals from Lisa Adams and excellent drumming from Chris Hermsen lure listeners into a wailing synth and double-vocal-backed ambush. The song’s twists and turns are a good preparation for “Driving By,” which features Sam Adams on lead vocals, an ensemble cast of flutes, distorted guitar and synths that seem to come and go to join forces as they please.
After the driving organ-backed title track “Say It,” the album takes a bit of a stylistic shift on the more electronic and R&B-influenced “Down by One” and “Dig Ourselves a Hole.” While delivering interesting performances, the more straightforward nature of the two tracks can leave one wanting compared to what came before.
The following cinematic and dreamy “Western Love” reveals itself to be an album highlight as it manages to do what Sama Dams does best–combining several seemingly disparate ideas into something larger than the sum of its parts, and in a way that makes the listener glad they’re not quite sure how they ended up where they are.