Tunes with Thomas: Samm Henshaw

Samm Henshaw, ‘Untidy Soul’ and the power of singles

Thomas DeLapp

More stories from Thomas DeLapp

Swing and a Miss
May 10, 2023

Thanks for coming to Tunes with Thomas.  This column will display the words of music-lover Thomas, probably about whatever music I’m into right now.  I listen to a lot of music — and this is your open invitation to send me more.  

This time,  I turn to a classic (meaning I listened to this artist in high school): Samm Henshaw.  A soul, R&B, gospel and hip/hop blender that puts a pep in my step and a smile on my face. 

Even though I’ve been listening to Henshaw for about four years now, he didn’t actually have an album until this year.  He had only put out a couple EP’s and a bunch of excellent singles, which are what I was jamming with after school in 2018.  Wow. 

Untidy Soul,” Henshaw’s debut album, released on January 28, 2022, and I jumped on it. 

The first track is literally a skit called “Still No Album – Intro,” joking about the long seven years it’s been since Henshaw’s first single in 2015 to, finally, his album.  

“Untidy Soul” is pretty good.  It’s the Henshaw I’ve always liked, with an album’s benefit of a coherent sound and theme.  

Henshaw is engaging even when he’s chilling, as he is for most of  ‘Untidy Soul.’ This isn’t booming bass, turn-it-up-to-eleven music.  The tracks are excited, but relaxed, born for driving around with friends on lazy days, preferably with windows down.  

While still upbeat, some tracks get introspective and reflective, most often about love, naturally.  “Loved By You”, “East Detroit” and album closer “Joy” all celebrate the more serious aspects of love and life while “Still Broke,” “Grow” and “Chicken Wings” have plenty of fun.  

The album highlight is “Still Broke,” featuring jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold. “Still Broke” is a follow-up to what may be Henshaw’s most popular single, 2018’s “Broke.” “Broke” is currently Henshaw’s top streamed song on Spotify, and it’s a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar.  

Speaking of those singles, I have to share my favorites.  The first Henshaw song I heard, introduced to me by a friend, was “Church,” featuring hip/hop duo EARTHGANG.  “Church” is, plain and simply, fun.  I highly recommend it, especially if you need to kick-start a slow morning.  

All Good” is another happy jam, plus, it has a squishy dog on the cover.  Personally, that’s everything I could hope for in a single.  R&B production duo Brasstracks (you might recognize their work with Chance the Rapper) had Henshaw in for a 2020 feature on “Change For Me,” a delightful collaboration that I demand more of.  

Finally, a shout out to “Only Wanna Be with You,” from Henshaw’s debut EP “The Sound Experiment”.  This one is laid back, serious and sweet.  

I talked a lot about those singles, because that’s where Henshaw shines.  There’s nothing wrong with “Untidy Soul” as a debut album — it’s great — but for me, Henshaw’s best work are his driven, unique drops as singles, and when you’re known for small, peppy doses of charm, a full album will be a big change.  

Henshaw has a promising career in front of him. Give his music a try.  Grab your friends, hop in the car, go  get ice cream and relax.  You don’t need to blast Samm Henshaw, his music is best enjoyed as is: humble, soulful and sunny.