Secret Meeting score: 77
by Philip Moss
In July 2018, Why Do I Go There? – the patriarchy defying lead track from Johanna Samuels’ EP, Have a Good One – appeared online. And despite the heartbreak depicted, Samuels strong stance – ‘It must be written on my wall by now / That’s why my face has turned away, I can’t allow it’ – is backed by a confident, soulful swagger that evolves into an inescapable choral melody.
Ten months on, the EP arrives in full. Rush of Wheels sees the wide eyed, sunshine sound of the opener narrow to a darker place. The pace is slower, and lap steels and glockenspiels bring cinematic sheen, but droning backing vocals underpin a song that displays a different side to Samuels – showing her latitude as a writer and exhibiting her warm, hushed voice. The blunt tone continues on Suppose to Say – ‘Was I supposed to say it was nice to see you today? Cos it was hell for me!’ – before it swells into an unexpected 80s inspired middle eight. Nothing To Know is more explicit in its country in its feel, as the record makes another eclectic turn, while closer, Dylan’s Third Verse, perhaps saves the best for last – the chorus evokes Aldous Harding as Samuels really opens her voice.
At just five tracks long, Have a Good One is seductive sample into the world of Samuels – and sorry to be greedy, but it’s hard not to yearn for a long player.