Sunday Music: Brittany Howard’s “Samson”

Brittany Howard is back with an incredible feeling, sounding, and thought-provoking record, What Now.

She’s been going through some stuff since she started working on this in 2020. 

The title track and video will get you moving, thinking, and feeling (I’ll post it below), but the song “Samson” is the one I’ve been most gripped by. 

The bible story of Samson is about a man with incredible physical strength. His power is due to a wish, granted to his mother, by an angel. The power has an Achilles heal of sorts – in Samson’s hair. If he ever cuts his hair, he loses his power. Don’t tell his enemies. 

But Delilah, his lover, sells him out. They cut his hair. They torture him. They gouge out his eyes. They enslave him. 

In a plea for rest, a blind Samson begs to lean against a column in the temple of his enemies. There, in the temple of a foreign god, he prays to his god. His strength returns. Samson leans on the pillars and brings the whole temple down. Everybody dies. 

Sounds like a pop song, doesn’t it? 

Howard’s Samson is internal. 

Powered up yet utterly powerless. 

In search of a choice, even if it’s a (chapter of life) ending one. 

The song’s lyrics read like a prayer, the kind you make right before you bring a temple down,

I’m split in two, I don’t know what I wanna do

I’m split in two, should I stick with you?

I don’t know how I’m gonna choose

I’m split in two

Let me be clear – I’m a total sucker for spacy Rhodes and a reverb-laden trumpet. Not to mention this could be a D’Angelo song as far as I’m concerned. But damn. This song washes over you with the weight of the ocean. Who else is making music like this?

I’m a few listens deep and am thoroughly enjoy this entire record. Bravo Brittany Howard, we missed you – and are so happy you’re back. More Brittany Howard stuff here too.