As it has been said: no matter where you go, there you are. With his new album You, Forever, Sam Evian, the project of New York-based musician, songwriter, and producer Sam Owens, is here to add some eternity to that sentiment. “This is you, forever: deal with yourself,” he says. “It’s about accepting that you are responsible, that you are in charge of your actions. Everything that happens to you is because of you; no matter what happens, go there and learn from it.”
It’s a mantra that powers self-starter Owens, who released his debut Sam Evian full-length, Premium, in the fall of 2016. You, Forever (as well as 2017’s Need You, a collaboration with the multi-hyphenate musician Chris Cohen) was written on the heels of Owens’s experience touring that first album with his band. The tours—which included opening shows for bands like Whitney, Lucius, Luna, and Nick Hakim—taught him much about feel and interaction. Further fueled by a desire to escape from the glow of screens and to embrace a sense of limitation, he quickly developed a new set of instrumental songs written and recorded on a four-track cassette recorder in his parents’ house in North Carolina. Inspired by these limiting techniques, Owens borrowed an eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder from a friend, rented a house in Upstate New York, and took his band there to record the new album in July of 2017.
That sensibility is both practice and theory on You, Forever. Dreamy album opener “IDGAF” provides suitable exposition with its notion of embracing one’s passions and pursuing one’s goals no matter the impositions in their path. “Health Machine” is a crunchy, slow-burning but deliberate stomper glowing with warm electric guitar noodling, saxophone wailing, and Owens’s reverb-laden lyrics that he says detail an abstract version of how he relates to his own physical form. “It’s about the unattainable health that I would like to imagine for myself on tour. Health is your job if you’re touring as a musician, although it’s a job I don’t do so well.” The song was the last recorded in the summer session, with Owens playing acoustic guitar through a heavily distorted microphone.
“There’s a ton of romance on the record,” he says. “It’s all romance. It’s also about living in New York and trying to separate myself from any idea I had previously of living in New York, and how I’ve kind of designed my own world there.” Whether traveling through America, navigating the bustle of his adopted home, playing festival stages with rock legends, or getting back to basics in his parents’ garage, no matter where Sam Evian goes, there he is… forever.