Sam Sims - Conga Drum, Hollywood, War Becomes Love
Sam Sims has been steadily delivering a sequence of singles in recent times, featuring tracks like "Conga Drum," "Hollywood" and "War Becomes Love," among others.
"Conga Drum" emerges as a standout piece within this collection, displaying a fascinating fusion of reggae and echoes reminiscent of Cat Stevens. While an unexpected blend, it surprisingly harmonizes, especially with the guitar solo that carries shades of Pink Floyd. The track takes an intriguing turn with a brief bongo solo, leading into its climactic peak.
Similarly, "Hollywood" maintains the distinct Cat Stevens influence observed in "Conga Drum," particularly noticeable in the vocal delivery. This track evokes a sense of renewal, offering a certain mental clarity. It's a song that resembles the sensation of emerging from an ice bath—refreshing and revitalizing.
"War Becomes Love" embodies a cascade of positive vibes, resembling a timeless anthem for protest. Particularly in the current era, songs of this nature wield significant influence, spreading the much-needed message of love, a sentiment the world yearns for now more than ever.
These three singles collectively carry a consistent mood, providing a glimpse into the artist's overarching aesthetic. It's a comprehensive snapshot that I wholeheartedly endorse—a sonic portrait worth experiencing.
Sam Sims – Conga Drum / Hollywood / War Become Love / Te Extraño / Feel Christmas
Sam Sims, the prolific artist, has graced us with a plethora of singles, each bearing a unique charm. One that immediately seized my attention was “Conga Drum,” a composition that effortlessly conjures the serene, focused and soothing ambiance I often yearn for. With its moderate energy levels, it truly comes alive during the chorus, evoking vivid daydreams of beachside listening sessions.
In “Hollywood,” Sims masterfully weaves together elements of Americana, reggae and country to craft a harmonious and invigorating tune. The delicate brush work and the dulcet harmonica tones weave an enchanting musical tapestry, while Sims’ vocals resonate with emotion, delivering a powerful performance. “War Become Love” flows like liquid silk. It’s impossible not to draw parallels to the legendary Bob Marley, given its reggae influences and its poignant theme of choosing love over violence.
This song, with its danceable rhythm, offers an invitation to both groove and find solace in its peaceful message. “Te Extraño” graces our ears with lyrics in two distinct languages, an intriguing choice that, while initially perplexing, ultimately results in a breathtaking composition. For romantics, both hopeless and hopeful, it’s a tear-inducing masterpiece that tugs at the heartstrings.
As the final track, “Feel Christmas,” approaches, it envelops you with the warmest embrace of a Christmas song, making it an indispensable addition to your festive playlist, especially with the holiday season just around the corner. What ties all these songs together is their accessibility. From the melodious arrangements to the heartfelt vocal deliveries and impeccable production, they draw the listener in like a comforting embrace. Listening to Sam Sims’ musical creations, I found myself melting into their inviting embrace, yearning to linger in their sonic landscapes.
AM SIMS - CONGA DRUM, HOLLYWOOD, WAR BECOMES LOVE, TE EXTRANO, FEEL CHRISTMAS
Sam Sims is an indie musician from New Jersey with quite a pedigree: he’s shared stages with artists like Willie Nile (sideman to Bruce Springsteen), Sever Forbert and The Beach Boys, even opening for Bob Marley’s Wailers in 2014 and 2015. His music has been licensed for prime-time television and gets lots of radio play, and of course he also fronts his own band. His list of credits only gets longer from there, but today we’ll be looking at his current single releases “Conga Drum,” “Hollywood,” “War Becomes Love,” “Te Extrano” and “Feel Christmas.”
Sims himself plays guitar, ukulele and harmonica and has been influenced by folk-rock and island music, creating his own acoustic soul-pop hybrid. Many of his original songs are described as “having a laid-back feel inspired by nature.” His musical influences include Van Morrison, David Gray, Jim Croce, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. His songs are also informed by his volunteer work in the United States and Nicaragua.
First up is “Conga Drum” which has an island vibe as if sung by Jose Feliciano by way of Van Morrison (I wrote this before I knew Morrison was one of Sims’ influences!). The stringed instruments have a great churning groove (using the muted strings for rhythm) and of course the drums and percussion are tight and clean. The song itself is a nifty pop-reggae love tune. He even steals the iconic Steve Miller “wolf whistle” effect! But that’s forgiven as he actually fires off a Carlos Santana-style lead solo, followed by Santana-like congas.
Next up is the rather Dylan-like “Hollywood” (I’m gonna mention Dylan if I hear ringing guitars, tenor vocals and harmonica). I can certainly catch some of Sim’s other influences here, especially Bob Marley and Ben Harper. Aside from the lovely circular guitar melodies, the percussion is again quite varied and right in the pocket, which must be a Sims trademark even without “Conga Drum” in the title.
“War Becomes Love” is a gentle, bluesy tune with gorgeous upfront guitars playing beautiful licks. It’s funny how this laid-back protest song uses language better suited to “1984” but then spins it around: “Love becomes war… why can’t war become lovin’?” I haven’t seen any production credits but thus far every song is impeccably recorded and mixed, and this one has yet another tasty, just slightly distorted lead guitar solo and still more congas!
“Te Extrano” translates to “I Miss You” in English, and the painfully lush acoustic guitars and steel drums more than bear this out. Funny how Jose Feliciano previously came to mind, as this is a song I could totally imagine him writing and singing. In fact I was very surprised to see that this was not a cover but a Sims original. So beautiful you could get married to it!
“Feel Christmas” is appropriately the final track here, but thankfully it avoids all the hokey Christmas song tropes like bells or fragments of well-known carols. As the fifth track in a row, by now I feel I have a handle on the Sam Sims Sound and this hits all the benchmarks: Sweet, intimate harmony vocals, ringing acoustic and electrics, solid percussion and a note-perfect guitar solo.
Five great songs to check out, and there’s tons more where they came from. You better get started!