Samia on “Honey”
February 16, 2023
Photography by Sofia Matinazad
It’s 93° outside and tens of thousands of people are packed into Zilker Park in Austin, Texas for the Austin City Limits Music Festival to see a full slate of acts perform in and out of the heat. Samia Finnerty (who goes by only her first name) begins her afternoon set in a pair of brown cowboy boots and spends the next 45 minutes gyrating in front of her rapt audience. Featuring a cover of Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ (also a famous Lily Allen cover), ballet choreography and one of the first premieres of ‘Mad at Me’, the second single from her then-upcoming album HoneyFinnerty charmed the Texas audience until the moment he walked off the stage.
Samia’s 2020 debut album The babyelevated her to a place in the “sad girl” canon despite the album’s core exploration of vulnerability and self-discovery. Honey expands on these reflections and begins to study the consequences of growing up.
Created at Sylvan Esso’s studio in the woods of North Carolina, Finnerty’s sophomore album revels in the honesty and waves of being in your 20s. The album features a collage of name-dropping of her friends and family, and that’s no accident. Finnerty calls the album both a “family record” and a “deathbed record”.
“It’s just like a combination of a lot of little thoughts,” she says. “Like zooming in and out, seeing how they fit into a bigger picture.”
The making of the album spanned a period of two years, with the first single and opening track, “Kill Her Freak Out”, written just as Finnerty was finishing her first album. The song opens and ends with over a minute of combined organ music and acts as the perfect transition between albums.
On The baby, Finnerty writes about his experiences while living them. On Honeythe stories told have already happened, Finnerty finally organizes his thoughts.
“I feel like if there’s any line, it’s probably just like a lot of contemplation and reflection,” she says. “There was nothing going on during COVID and then I got into a really stable relationship and I have a dog and I live in a house in a quiet neighborhood. So I spend a lot of time writing songs about a more chaotic time in my life.”
Although Finnerty originally envisioned the album as a folky, acoustic LP, the experiences she writes about are more “abrasive” and require a more direct approach. “There’s still a lot of sad slow songs for sure,” she says, but songs like “Breathing Song,” with her heavier vocals, and “Mad at Me,” with her brighter note, make the album rise above the trite “sad girl” ” labels.
Finnerty doesn’t see the two albums as diptychs, but instead does The baby like the seedlings that Honey expands on. While The baby gives personal data, Honey completely redoes specific events. At times, they can feel too specific, but they still channel the sense of relentless chaos that the 20s bring.
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