By Michelle Perez
With a smooth mix of lo-fi electronic and r&b, Sam Pippa provides a fascinating atmosphere of chill and haunting with her debut LP Sweetlow.
After humble beginnings of posting on Soundcloud, Pippa is excited to release her long awaited, first full length album. The album features songs both new and old, presenting Pippa’s growth into herself as a rising queen in the genre.
Starting off with rumbling bass and chipper vocals, Pippa welcomes the listener into Sweetlow with a friendly intro. “Way You Do” presents a basic idea of the rest of the album with its mixture of alluring vocals and chill production. The songs flow into each other seamlessly, floating in and out of each other like a stroll through Pippa’s mind.
The album’s writing comes out of a place of raw honesty with many of the concepts in Sweetlow spawned during Pippa’s walks or bike rides home.
“Most of the vocals are recorded with the mic on my Macbook because I’d be so eager to get it down. The majority of the instruments are done on my typing keyboard for the same reason. They would turn out being the ones with the most honesty so that’s what stuck,” she said.
One of the album standouts comes early in “Blue Temple.” The style resembles that of one of her main influences, Spooky Black, with its sexy vibe and controlled beat. Pippa’s vocals are the highlight of the track, crooning above the mix with a panging sense of longing. The song dissolves into a low hum that transfers into the following track, “Pull That Weight,” with ease.
Pippa’s style comes out of a desire to create music with a clean beat and solid groove along the lines of James Blake, something that follows her from her Soundcoud days.
“I moved into this style because I didn’t feel too confident playing guitar,” she said. “I’m just more comfortable making music this way.”
Guitar is not an instrument that is missed on Sweetlow, the clicking and rumble of the instrumentation are a perfect fit for Pippa’s vocal style. Her singing sounds as relaxed as she is, making every sound seem effortless in its soft and low delivery. This is best displayed on “Unproposed” where Pippa’s voice rides the groove providing waves of chill ecstasy before slipping into the album closer.
“Do It” is the biggest highlight of Sweetlow with its hesitant piano chords and low background hum. Pippa’s vocals match the softness of the piano, lulling the listener into a sense of safety so compelling that it demands another taste of the record.
The project as a whole keeps her close to her roots of recording vocals over beats from Soundcloud. Her first few songs involved fitting her vocals to beats created by other producers, limiting her ability to express her true range. The creation of her own beats with this record has allowed her to cater to her own style, creating sounds that could only ever fit with her voice.
Beyond Sweetlow, Pippa’s next step is foraying into the world of creating her own sampled beats. Having considered the discovery of sampled beats a good exercise for the brain when she started, she plans to offer her ideas to those similar to her.
“The vibe of them is so satisfying and I really respect people who do it well, so I think it will be an interesting journey,” Pippa said. •