Sometimes, the word “prodigy” is floated around a little too casually. And sometimes, its descriptive accuracy is undeniable.
Meet Sam Levin, a 16-year-old musician whose passion for music emerged over a decade ago, writing his first song before most can manage to write an interesting sentence. At such a young age, his work ethic is already ignited with the drive of a soul that unequivocally knows what they are born to do. And his recently released second album, I Am, is an exercise of his abilities, showing off a range of instrumental prowess, lyrical complexity, and self-aware teenage vulnerability.
The melodies off this album are smart, surprising, and engaging in orchestration. One track may have hints of guitar that lend Levin an air of folk wiser beyond his years. Others show off his mastery of piano with a tempo that can soar and crash in equal measure. He even adds modern synth elements to tracks like “First World Problems” that retain his youthfulness and keeps the album from being about a young man postulating to have grown up and figured it all out too quickly.
There are a couple of standout songs on this album. First, the track from which the album derives it’s title, “I Am.” Levin’s piano score here along with the accompanying vocals make this track feel like the song that plays at the height of the emotional arc of a musical. It’s the type of song that would make people grow a little quieter in a theatre, stop fidgeting so much and just lean into it.
“Carbon” feels like a sweetly fumbling love song, with lines like, “you’re my music maker,” uttered matter-of-factly by Levin. It’s verbiage that seems natural and unique to him. Levin has been quoted in the past saying that he can only start to write about other things if he writes about himself first, and it shows through songs like these. We learn more about Levin himself as we learn about how he perceives and interacts with the world around him.
Overall, Sam Levin’s career seems to have all the elements to be a promising one. He’s still rough around the edges like you would expect anyone who is still exploring the full reach of their sound. In a handful of years, it will be interesting to see which of what seem like infinite directions he will choose to take and evolve his style. But if he we stock, we would tell you to invest.
Listen to Sam Levin’s new album, I Am, at his website here.