Last year Sea in the Sky, a progressive metal band from Redwood City, CA, graced us with their EP “Visions”. The EP featured reworked Sea in the Sky songs with their new vocalist, Sam Kohl. In addition to providing amazing vocals to an already amazingly talented instrumental band, Sam Kohl recently released an acoustic solo project under the name Songbird. Released March 10th, “Somber” is a brilliant showcase of Sam Kohl’s vocal and songwriting abilities. He paints a vivid soundscape with each song throughout this EP.
The first track, “Drift”, is an instrumental intro track that eventually transitions into the second track “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily”. This track does a nice job setting the tone for the rest of the EP and although there are no vocals, is just as emotional as the rest of the EP, if not more so. This song feels specifically like part of a dream.
The second track, “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily”, is part love song and part moving on from that same love. The instrumentals of the song could be broken into two parts. The first part, which takes up a majority of the song, is an arpeggiated acoustic guitar part that comes together with the lyrics to create a dreamy and wishful tone. The dreamy tone is most exemplified lyrically by the chorus of this song. More specifically the lines “But if life is just a dream, then I’m so lucky to have dreamt it with you.” which to me, reminds me of daydreaming about a lost love through rose tinted glasses. The wishful tone is most felt near the end to the second verse with the line “And as our aging bones continue to decay and our minds collapse, maybe then will our love relapse.” almost wishfully stating that maybe when we’re older we could be together again. Together, this section of the song almost feels like the narrator is daydreaming. Thinking about a love lost. The second part of “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily” takes on a different tone altogether. This section is less dreamy and wishful than the first and is more directed. The instrumentals alone are less spacey, trading the arpeggiated chords for non arpeggiated chords. This section feels more “real” than the first because of it. It feels less like a dream and more so like the narrator’s head came out of the clouds. Lyrically, the content is entirely about moving on and staying the same. Moving on merrily and continuing on the same path, merrily. The ending of the song however, reverts back to that dreamy feel with a reprise from the first track, “Drift”.
The third song, “Suture”, builds upon that lost love from the previous track. But instead of looking back with rose tinted glasses this song seems like a more honest look back. The title alone sets the tone for the song fairly well. Lyrically, the song relates heavily to the title. “Suture” paints the picture of what it feels like to be stitched together by someone you love only to be left alone with just the sutures (stitches) keeping you together. The song is also heartbreakingly honest about those feelings towards the one who put you in this position in the first place. That uncertainty that you could stay in one piece after they leave. Instead of spewing hateful words like most would do with a breakup song, Sam does the opposite. Instead of writing about how much he hated the person inspired this, he wrote “But I would never write a single broken word about you. And if I ever did, you know that I’d be lying to myself. It’s a fine, fine line we walk between love and hate.” which is truly a beautiful and honest way to explain what it’s like to be in this situation.
The fourth song, “Through Doors Seldom Open (God Song)”, touches upon that moment when you’re at your lowest point but manage to find meaning again. This is my personal favorite song on the EP due to how well it was able to articulate something that I found myself going through as well. The song’s title, “Through Doors Seldom Open”, relates to death. Not a natural death, but a self inflicted death. Lyrically, it’s hard to miss this connection since the message is very direct, having “…found God. Three feet above the floor, with rope around his neck was.” it’s very hard to draw a comparison to that that doesn’t relate to suicide. However, Sam turns something so horribly negative into something positive. He found meaning in a moment of weakness. Something that doesn’t always happen and It’s a truly beautiful thing.
The fifth song, “Ghost of Summers Passed”, touches upon how the earth will continue breaking us down in time. Not just physically with how we will perish and the earth will persist, but emotionally. There is also this thought of wishing you could go back to a time that you weren’t as broken down and living differently. These two ideas repeat throughout the song. The first message, the earth continually breaking us down is more readily apparent. The first time it is mentioned is in the second stanza, “And when each step gets hard to take, the Earth below us keeps on spinning just the same. Breaks you down like the dust that we came from,” stating that even when your life is getting harder the earth will just keep on spinning and break you down even more. The second message of wishing you could go back and live life differently is more spread out. The message starts with the line “If we only knew and if we only cared enough.”, and continues until the end of the chorus. The narrator is acknowledging that when we’re young we sometimes live life differently, we waste it. When you realize that, you find yourself looking back “alone in your head” wishing you could have done it differently. This song, like the rest of the EP, is truly beautiful. At first it was hard for me to discern meaning to this song because it seemed fragmented. But after time the song grew on me and I found myself finding meaning I didn’t know was there.
The final song, “Teach Me To Waltz”, provides closure to the EP. While intended or not, the song makes reference to the third song “Suture” through the line “The hands of time will suture your wounds, this I know”. Instrumentally, the song fades in and out, both beginning and ending with the sound of rain. Which can actually be heard throughout the song if you listen hard enough. Something that usually symbolizes sadness. Instrumentally the song returns to the arpeggiated chords utilized in the first and second songs. The instrumentals give an altogether somber (HA) and introspective tone. Lyrically, the song builds on that introspective feel. As if the narrator is looking back at their life with their new experiences and views on life. While there aren’t a lot of lyrics to this song, only three stanzas with some repetition of the third stanza, Sam manages to fill those three stanzas with a lot of meaning. The lines “The blade of life cuts close to the heart when you’re all alone. The hands of time will suture your wounds, this I know.” are repeated twice at the end of the first two stanzas. They act as the narrator seemingly giving hard earned advice. That life will do it’s worst when you’re alone, but at the same time with enough time those wounds will heal. That advice is continued in the last stanza. Telling you to wake up and learn to waltz through life when you’re at a low point. Because it will eventually get better.
Overall, this EP is phenomenal. It showcases Sam Kohl’s brilliant songwriting and vocal abilities in the perfect setting. The instrumentals lend a lot of emotion and feeling to the songs. Songs that are already overflowing with emotion vocally. I feel that this EP deserves 5 stars, 100%, an 11/10 rating, an absolutely perfect score. Check it out below on bandcamp, be sure to follow all of Songbird. (Sam Kohl’s) social media, and check out Sea in the Sky if you need more of Sam Kohl’s wonderfully talented singing in your life.
*These are just my own personal interpretations of the songs meanings*
Sea in the Sky: