Personnel: Sam Evian (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, tenor saxophone, piano, synthesizer); Dan Iead (pedal steel guitar); Michael Coleman (Wurlitzer organ); Austin Vaughn (drum set, shaker, tambourine).
Audio Mixer: Sam Evian.
Recording information: Figure 8 Studio, Brooklyn, NY; Flying Cloud Home Studio; Magic Shop Studio (RIP) <3.
Unknown Contributor Role: Michael Coleman .
Premium is the solo debut of all-around musician and studio operative Sam Owens, who adopted the more unusual Sam Evian alias for his solo output. Owens, who also fronts indie rock band Celestial Shore and does studio work for Figure 8 Recording in Brooklyn, counts Shuggie Otis, Jackson Browne, and Cass McCombs (whom he's produced) among his many varied influences. His affection for vintage gear and some of the mellower sounds of the '60s and '70s are evident on Premium, which has contributions from several other area musicians, including Dan Iead (pedal steel), Brian Betancourt (bass), and Austin Vaughn (drums). The warped slide guitars of opener "Sleep Easy" are accentuated by Owens' breathy, ethereal vocals, which together capture the pull of a half-awake state as he complains of staying out late and sleeping later than his partner. The album's consistent drawl continues on "Dark Love," whose vintage synths deliver a deliberate quirkiness that's punctuated by a saxophone solo by Eddie Barbash (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert house band). Funky album climax "I Need a Man" ("A hand to hold/A way to grow older") loads up on guitars, spacy synths, strings, saxes, and guest vocalists as the song's plea grows louder. Things wind back down by the closer, "Tear," which deconstructs the act of crying with both intimacy and a wink ("gravity rules"). Corralled by Owens' gossamer delivery, the relaxed twang of steel guitars and otherworldly vintage synths on Premium make for a slightly strange, seductive listen that's equally suited for early morning hangovers and late, late nights. ~ Marcy Donelson