New Video: Sam Himself’s Lovingly Schlocky Send-Up of Country Western Specials

With the release of 2020’s Slow Drugs EP and last year’s critically applauded full-length debut Power Ballads, Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sam Himself had quickly made a name for himself both nationally and internationally: Power Ballads was called a “well-crafted set of atmospheric post-punk” by KEXP; the album landed on the national charts while receiving airplay across both the States and Europe. The Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based artist also earned two Swiss Music Award nominations.

Sam Himself was supporting the highly buzzed around Slow Drugs with a European tour when the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into everyone’s plans and hopes — including his plans to return back to NYC, his home for the past decade. The resulting shock and sense of powerlessness in almost every aspect of his life wound up inspiring the sardonically titled Power Ballads.

Early in his career, the Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has proven to be remarkably prolific. Building upon that reputation, Himself’s Daniel Scheltt-produced sophomore album is slated for an early 2023 release. Unlike its predecessor, the new album’s material reportedly brims with the hope and promise of a reopening world, where it’s possible to record, perform and even tour together. While continuing his successful collaboration with Schlett, the album also sees the Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based artist working with longtime musical collaborators JD Werner (bass) and Chris Egan (drums).

“I definitely didn’t plan to cut an entire album when I went back into the studio earlier this year, but the initial session went so well, we walked out with just under ten songs,” the rising artist explains in press notes. “On a whim, I asked Daniel for more dates before everyone was gonna be busy again for months. He was all for it, provided that I had more songs ready to record – which of course I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me. I bluffed, the dates went on the calendar and just like that, I had about a week to write two whole songs from scratch.”

Recorded with his backing band in the same room at Schlett’s Brooklyn-based Strange Weather Studio, the album’s second and latest single, “Golden Days” is a slick and well-crafted synthesis of Bruce Springsteen/Sam Fender-like arena rock power ballad and atmospheric Patsy Cline-meets-Daughn Gibson-like country as you’ll hear glistening synth arpeggios, chugging guitar doused in a little bit of reverb paired with a big hooks and even bigger choruses and Himself’s unique delivery which displays vulnerability, assertiveness and resilience within the turn of a phrase. Throughout the song, it’s narrator manages to turn heartbreak and regret into the resilience of a teachable moment — about both life and fittingly, himself. (No pun intended here.)

“I got the chorus for Golden Days together pretty quick, but I heard it as a more of a slow, Western ballad type of thing; I’d just been on tour, meaning days and days in the van listening to nothing but Country – ask my band, they love it! – so all I could come up with was, like, Patsy Cline!” Himself says in press notes. ” Luckily for me, JD (Werner) is a prolific songwriter in his own right who just makes stacks of demos at all times! I told him about my conundrum, he offered to show me some of the material he’d been working on. The very first demo he shared gave me the instrumental parts for the verses and those beautiful guitar themes. Then all I had to do was write some words, find a vocal melody, speed up my Country chorus and that’s how we made Golden Days.” 

Filmed by Stefan Tschumi, the accompanying video for “Golden Days” stars Sam and his touring band, Benjamin Noti and Georg Diller in a lovingly schlocky and hokey homage to classic Country Western TV specials, like Grand Ole Opry, The Porter Wagoner Show, The Johnny Cash Show and others, full of showbiz cliches, performative nostalgia for the gold ol’ days, and some self-parody as well.