Sam Hozdulick Awakens
Colour and triumph is abound in Sam Hozdulick’s sophomore LP Awake, a ten-track album that swirls together some fantastic sounds into one tasty conglomeration.
It’s not difficult to see how genuine the core of each song is, and when swirled together it culminates into something that is pure. Although not necessarily revolutionary, the positive messages interwoven throughout the album are heartfelt. And when it’s all said and done, for the most part, listeners will most definitely be touched by Hozdulick’s heroic charge into helping people find acceptance in themselves.
“When I’m Gone” is one such example of this combination of heartfelt messages with tight production and instrumentals. The lyrics aren’t anything new, singing about the sensation of being tongue-tied, stuck in the past, and full of regret over not being around someone anymore, but the chorus is shiny and spectacular, driving home something hopeful despite the melancholia that is abound on this track. All this being said before we even consider how Hozdulick’s vocals are so insatiably smooth and cool, although it is curious that it’s not until four tracks in that we finally get a good showcase of her voice.
“Down” is, even when compared to “When I’m Gone,” the first time the album truly simmers down to a state of chill, and even more so than the previous track do we really get to hear Hozdulick’s slick vocals. We’d really love to hear a candlelit version of this song where Hozdulick can we really show off how soft and intimate her voice can get, but that doesn’t detract anything away from this wonderful cut. There’s inklings of nostalgia here that make us think of early 2000’s pop, bringing back some sounds that call back to the likes of Sherryl Crow, Kelly Clarkson, and Michelle Branch, and considering it’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything like that this is definitely a good thing.
Of the more upbeat tracks, “Forbidden Fruit” is absolutely infectious, Hozdulick channeling an 80’s pop vibe that you almost wish is more prominent throughout the record. This one’s got a dancey feel that, maybe surprisingly, doesn’t appear until track seven of the album.
As a whole, this is a record that seems to leave a bit to be desired when it comes to production value. It’s a definite plus as to how many different sounds from different genres come together, but for some reason, and especially on most of the energetic tracks, there seems to be a certain swagger missing. And honestly, I refuse to believe that Hozdulick’s voice doesn’t suit these more vibrant tracks, but songs like “Flashing Lights,” the opening track, just don’t seem to have the same impact as the more downbeat tracks, and the reasons why are puzzling. Even with the hip-hop vibe on “Good Thing,” there definitely seems to be potential for the track to lift off, and yet it doesn’t seem to ever explode. It’s a regrettable grievance to have with what is otherwise a solid record, as it feels there is a disconnect between production and artist that isn’t really there. The talent and the vast array of influences are undeniable, but for the most part it all doesn’t hold together too cohesively.
But all this is not to suggest that Hozdulick go elsewhere when it comes to producing her sounds. “When I’m Gone” and “Down” are still two fantastic tracks that seem ready to go for radio play.
We’re also not suggesting that there be more of these tracks either, because that would mean getting rid of the likes of “Crazy,” “Time Bomb,” and “Diamond On The Floor” to name a few. These are tracks that have a fun pomp to them, but in terms of pop music there’s some lethality and potency that feels missing. Maybe the hooks aren’t nearly as catchy as they should be, or the instrumentals don’t pop, but either way it’s a shame, because aesthetically this is still a very exciting album.
It’s quite clear that Sam Hozdulick has the vision to create something fantastic, and to that, Awake is definitely a step in the right direction. Despite our grievances with her fit on the more upbeat tracks, it’s still too early to suggest the fit is not there entirely, and I refuse to believe that someone who is oozing talent can’t pull off more than just “When I’m Gone” and “Down.” Ed Sheeran, arguably, proved he was capable of fielding a style wider than just acoustic pop quite admirably. Awake shows off a palette of influences and tools at Hozdulick’s disposal, and we hope that it’s not too long before we see that paint something truly spectacular.
In the mean time, we will be happy to swallow up what we can.