Single of the week: Johanna Samuels – High Tide for One

by Paddy Kinsella

I fell hook, line, and, sinker for Johanna Samuels’ understated songwriting after hearing last year’s EP, Have A Good One. The qualities present there – her remodelling of old influences to make something fresh, her unique talent for language, and that deep inherently wise vocal – appear refined on new single, High Tide for One.

Instead of shouting for your attention, High Tide for One edges into your consciousness like the smell of a nearby barbecue. It ambles and rocks – the slide guitar acting like gusts of wind on a turbine, powering its other more discreet elements. Though the subject is emotionally intense and full on – a hopelessness at how the reaction to Blasey Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, reinforced patriarchal structures – Samuels pulls it off in her trademark, subtle style. There’s an arch of the eyebrow in her delivery, as if she’s questioning, ‘Really? Did you really just go and do that?’ Her phrasing is never clear cut – she always leaves room for questioning. Having previously sung of the Rush of Wheels, High Tide for One is another unique phrase that opens doors, and provokes thought. ‘High tide for one / Isn’t solid ground / so why would I want to keep her down?’ she questions, ruminating on how the patriarchy have encouraged women to compete with each other rather than raise one another up. Knowledge of Samuels’ unique talent might still be bubbling under the surface right now, but High Tide for One gives her the solid grounding to go on and attract all the acclaim she so rightly deserves.

High Tide for One is out now on Basin Rock/Mama Bird Recording Co.

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