Sam Fender, a twenty-two-year-old former bartender from Tyneside, appears to be an unlikely, yet appropriate, leader for the emerging indie revival in the British music scene. He was recently awarded the Brits Critics Choice of 2019 and those who play FIFA would have heard his single ‘Play God’ on the latest release. His soulful voice, alongside his subject matter, is a fresh and long overdue jump start in a time when a lot of music is becoming banal and meaningless.
Sam’s originality begins right from his discovery, when producer Owain Davies walked into Sam’s pub and he was told by his landlord to play in the corner, where he was scouted and shown to the world. A rather more novel way of being discovered than through a talent show or Instagram like many are nowadays. Sam’s songs are honest and insightful, you can tell there’s a lot of thought behind them and he’s taken inspiration from his surroundings in down-and-out Tyneside and the current political climate; it’s a welcome alternative to the endless songs about love and romance, or worse, the obvious money-makers, that currently litter the music scene.
His debut EP, Dead Boys, was released last November, a small collection of five songs that pack a musical punch. The joy of Sam is that he knows no taboo, he will address hard-hitting and pressing matters that modern music really should. His song ‘Leave Fas’ highlights the hopelessness of the post-industrial North and the lack of opportunities for its youth, where each must face the choice of ‘leave fast or stay forever’, which Sam delivers in a cheery, yet hollow melody.
‘Poundshop Kardashians’ illustrates the fakery of much of modern life, with countless numbers addicted to reality TV and brainless celebrities whilst ignoring the mess their lives and society is becoming. Perhaps Sam’s most illuminating and concerning message comes in ‘Dead Boys’, which discusses the prevalent issue of young male suicide. Inspired by the high suicide rate in his home town, it contends how communities soon cover up and forget about such problems and how ‘nobody ever could explain’ why it happens – a flagship protest against society’s persistent refusal to combat the roots of the dilemma.
But such serious subjects do not define this singer-songwriter, Sam is an artist and symbol for the rebellious youth of today: fresh, outspoken, enigmatic, and passionate. If you’re looking for some fresh, innovative and tangible music that really grabs you and makes you contemplate the state of society and our world, then Sam is your man. His EP is hopefully the flagship for a new wave of meaningful music in this sea of futility, or the indie Renaissance; if not, then his upcoming and as-of-yet unnamed album should add more fuel to Sam’s fire.