‘On Repeat’ is VIBE’s R&B Reporter Mya Abraham’s New Music Friday column. Each week, she covers one R&B song or album that has the most replay value heading into the weekend (but don’t worry, she’s also got a roundup of honorable mentions below).
Ever since discovering Samm Henshaw this past October, thanks to his 2021 single, “Chicken Wings,” unpacking the South London singer’s music has been a joyous adventure for me. This includes his latest release, Untidy Soul.
Having evolved since entering the industry with a pair of EPs in 2015 and ’16, Henshaw offers a beautiful conglomerate of influences on his debut album, merging his gospel roots with hints of jazz and soul as he guides fans through a deeply reflective sonic journey. During our conversation in October, Henshaw told me the album is about finding the beauty in being a scatterbrain.
Following a witty intro (“Still No Album”), a dazzling trumpet-laced reflection titled “Thoughts and Prayers” lures fans in with something new before the album moves on to the previously released “Grow” and “Chicken Wings.” Though no song sounds alike, this is to Henshaw’s advantage, as every cut on the 16-track LP feels like a standout moment.
“Mr. Introvert” references a nickname Henshaw carries due to his shyness. On “8.16,” he communicates his desire to be present with his lover despite her possibly pulling away due to inhibitions of her own. He then allows that sentiment to breathe on “Mr Introvert – Reprise,” before sliding into one of my favorite tunes, “Loved By You.” The heartwarming vulnerability pulsating through the three-minute track is sweet enough to ease any apprehensions his aforementioned lover may have, as Henshaw sings, “On your darkest days I’ll be your sun/ The thing that you need the most/ When you’re left with none/ Whatever you need/ I will be, all I ask/ Is to be loved by you.”
A blatant and evidently very patient romantic, Henshaw highlights the importance of easing into physical intimacy on the hypnotizing Tobe Nwigwe-assisted tune, “Take Time.” He later has fun on one of the album’s more uptempo tracks, “It Won’t Change,” before cruising through relationship woes on “East Detroit,” as he sings, “Baby, it’s 4 A.M. in East Detroit/ And I’d to anything to hear your voice.”
Untidy Soul rounds out with a run of introspective tracks that may have you in complete tears by the end, where Henshaw speaks to the notion of still being broken emotionally before finding joy—sweet, complete, bright joy.
He explained to VIBE that while the album as a whole is quite personal, there’s something special about the song “Joy.” The 27-year-old shared, “[It] is just the end of this story that’s a journey of me trying to find myself, trying to figure out who I am, trying to grow. ‘Joy’ is this place that I get to and I find out that was what I was looking for all along.”
For a debut album, Untidy Soul feels like a warm welcome into the home of a familiar stranger. It’s a cup of tea and a good time—depending on what you’re seeking.
Check out some other notable R&B releases from this week’s New Music Friday below: