Artist: Sam Valdez
Label: Independent
Genre: Pop/Electronic
Sounds Like: Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Bishop Briggs
Strengths: Polished and professional vocal quality. Great voice.
Weaknesses: Not particularly dynamic/inventive enough to break away from current music trends

Song Review:

Sam Valdez is a young singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. Previously known for songs with folk-inspired elements, her new single “Hours” is somewhat of a departure from earlier material. Produced by Max Braverman, “Hours” is an ambient, electronic, and intimate pop song. Although Valdez isn’t expected to put out an EP until next year, it is likely additional singles such as “Hours” will lead up to the eventual release of her debut record.
“Hours” is a sparse, four-minute long croon that has been drenched in copious amounts of reverb and polished to the point where the track sounds as good as anything else played on alternative music radio stations. In short, the production is fantastic; it brings the richness and moody coloring of Valdez’s voice to the forefront, and works to create an experience that is both electronically euphoric, but also quite genuine and personal, especially when considering the unmistakable bluesy, smokey qualities of Valdez’s vocals. “Hours” brings out modes of instrumentation that have similar qualities to what could be heard in contemporary pop songs by singers like Lorde, yet the actual artistry and musical approach by Valdez, especially given the sparseness of the track and the qualities of her vocals, suggest influences and similarities with the likes of Lana Del Rey, or possibly Bishop Briggs. “Hours” is well done, not question about it. Valdez can sing, the lyrics are fitting, and the production of this track is particularly good. Everything about the presentation of this single suggests the utmost professionalism, and considering this is one of the first efforts in Valdez’s early career, “Hours” shows a large amount of promise for the development and refinement of this artist.

For all the potential that Valdez demonstrates in “Hours”, the music itself isn’t anything completely new, groundbreaking, or particularly dynamic. From a technical standpoint, the vocal talents and production successes of the track are commendable, and while there is little question whether or not Valdez can sing on the level of Lana Del Rey or Bishop Briggs, it is still yet to be seen whether or not Valdez possesses songwriting and artistic capabilities comparable to that of highly successful, chart-topping musicians. Basically, “Hours” doesn’t definitively answer this question, and while the song certainly sounds fantastic, there isn’t anything in it that immediately suggests an abnormal amount of originality. However, especially when considering an artist as young as Valdez, the lack of a definitive and distinct musical identity is something to be expected, and something that will develop over time. With the raw talent Valdez has in terms of technical proficiency, her sound only stands to become more refined and honed as she grows as an artist.

“Hours” is part of a promising beginning for a very talented young artist. Valdez’s vocals are very good, and when combined with top-quality production, are comparable to some of the greatest contemporary pop singers on the radio today. The release of her EP next year will stand as a very important and defining moment in her young career. For all the raw talent that Valdez possesses, she still appears to lack a definitive musical direction unique from anyone else. The EP will definitely be needed to establish Valdez’s distinct sound and propel this young talent to a level of prestige that she deserves, given her obvious and unmistakable musical talents.

Owen Matheson