Amongst last year’s releases was Sam Wickens‘ debut album, All I’ve Seen. The album was a big step beyond his 2016 Send Me EP which showed his talents for the first time. ‘Strange.24‘ is another step further, his first new music since last year’s NI Music Prize nominated album, and the first track from a new EP Watson, out next February .
The new single takes Wickens’ voice and songwriting but adds layer upon layer of distance and unease in the form of much more experimental production. Wickens vocals whisper rather than shout, his voice rising in the stirring chorus. Surrounding this however is a wash of texture, with the persistent fingerpicking augmented by industrial beats, discordant piano and guitar, and a disembodied female backing vocal. It’s a world away from that first EP, the melancholic but fresh songwriter now sounding much more conflicted and less direct, taking influence from the left field turn of Bon Iver for example.
‘Strange.24’ sounds like an artist working through a difficult moment, as echoed in the song’s exploration of Wickens moving on from his battle with mental illness. “This song was a therapeutic way to help me move on with my recovery”, says Wickens.
With ‘Strange.24’, Sam Wickens, in his 24th year, is attempting to create something new and disparate.