Will Samson calls the songs on Hello Friends, Goodbye Friends â€śjust a document of time & first real attempt at singing,â€ť with no great aesthetic beyond â€śjust (pressing) the record button on my 8-track and sung whatever came out.â€ť What came out is a collection of eight somewhat sad, somewhat dreamlike pop songs.
â€śMy Broken Mirrorâ€ť ambles along, its acoustic foundation enhanced with soaring melody and enriched by Samsonâ€™s plaintive, high register vocals. That semi-falsetto might be a turn-off for some, especially when he aims for really high notes, like on â€śPanda Bears,â€ť which adds piano to help create that dreamlike melodic signature; Samsonâ€™s guitar here is brittle, muted and haunting, and is memorable throughout.
The record really reaches its own heights on â€śFind Me In The Oceanâ€ť and â€śSleeping,â€ť which are spare, almost ambient tunes, and in which Samsonâ€™s vocals are mostly buried in the mix. â€śFriendsâ€ť and â€ťViolins and Polaroidsâ€ť operate in a similar fashion but with less success; Samsonâ€™s vocals have a raw poignant beauty at times, but sometimes, as one these tracks in particular, seem overwrought given the fragile melody.
That Will Samson is a Romantic who has been burned a few times is evident; many of the songs on Hello Friends, Goodbye Friends drip with loss and nostalgia for simpler times. But those songs are also imbued with melodies that evoke the very land of innocence and awe to which he might long to return.