Sam Levin is like that guy you went to high school with, who you knew was smarter than all the other ‘bros,’ yet didn’t get the credit.
The 15-year-old’s newest work, Frame Of Mind, just came out March 28. What’s crazy is that it’s not his first project. That came at the age of 7.
Of course Frame Of Mind is Levin’s first full-length album. And it’s one hell of a debut considering his age. When I was 15 I was mastering Mario Kart and my jump shot, not an epic collection of self-made art for the masses.
The singer-songwriter’s first video off the album is “Shades Of Pale.”
The snapping is well, snappy. Personally, I could go without the cough in the beginning, but it makes the track affably human.
If you notice, Levin’s simple, repetitive, acoustic licks on the above track are mesmerizing. There are times when his baritone voice also resembles that of Shawn Mendes, especially on the track “Ride,” which is one of the stronger tracks on the album.
“I Sure Hope Not (Again)” and “Shades Of Pale” are also songs that standout from the New Yorker. I love how the 80s-inducing horns keep you guessing in “Made My Day.” But the song I keep wanting to go back to is “Setup.” My God, the Setup. Such a great song.
The track has this cool, jazz club feel that has masterful picking, which again, meshes perfectly with Levin’s baritone voice. Adding Annie Rubinson’s backup vocals adds a nice touch, helping to paint a solid picture of what that ‘setup’ may have really been like. But the track comes full-circle with the crescendo of the last 30 seconds that showcases Levin’s amazing acoustic chops, blasting ripe solos that almost make a grown man cry.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t note Levin’s love for experimentation. No, he’s not tripping … I don’t think. But it appears the kid really wants to swing for the fences when it comes to adding as many instruments to an album as possible.
While listening to Frame Of Mind, I found myself asking:
Is that an organ?
Is that xylophone?
Is that mouth percussion?
A 50’s PSA?
What instrument is that which sounds Beatles-esque?
You get the idea.
And there’s nothing wrong with it. I love the fact that Levin wants to dabble in a little bit of everything. It’s every music lover’s dream. It does make the album a little less relatable to the average listener.
Overall, Frame Of Mind isn’t going to break records (no pun intended), but it is an incredibly solid debut from a kid that appears to have a bright future in music. If I could, I would buy stock.
Levin is already a master of his craft at an age most boys are too busy frosting their tips (wait, my 90s is coming out). And while there are times it appears he’s just using words that rhyme, such as in “Shades Of Pale,” it all kind of works. And lines such as “we both see eye to eye through telescope” in “Telescope” proves Levin can write well beyond his years.
He’s creative, yes. And his songs also need to be a little more appealing to a wider audience. But he also shouldn’t ‘sell out.’ And he won’t.
I have a feeling if this kid continues to grow at his current pace or collabs with the right people, he’s certainly a future star. All the talent is there.
Or should I say, “It’s all gonna be all right right right.”
Josh Helmuth is an editor for Crave and a longtime music lover whose first record was Eric Clapton. However, his first concert? That choice he will take to the grave.
Listen to ‘Frame Of Mind’ by Sam Levin here.