Sam Evian warms up for tour with an electric, energetic Free At Noon - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Sam Evian Free at Noon - 04.19.2024

What can’t Sam Evian do? On top of being an in-demand producer who’s worked with the likes of Big Thief, Palehound, and Kate Bollinger, the Brooklyn-based musician just released Plunge, his acclaimed fourth album. Before kicking off his North American tour kicks this week, he dropped by World Cafe Live Friday for a tight, no-nonsense set of throwback jams at Free At Noon. Belting his heart out while strumming his beautiful hollow-body guitar, occasionally trading it out for an electric piano and a saxophone, Evian didn’t talk much, but that’s because he doesn’t need to – the music speaks for itself.

Plunge comes three years after Evian’s last full-length, Time to Melt, and in three years time, the artist has grown a lot. Time to Melt was the type of album you’d expect from a producer-musician; it’s a very meticulous record, centered around tight grooves, smooth performances, and unbelievably clean production. Plunge, which arrives after milestones such as a GRAMMY nomination for producing Big Thief’s “Certainty,” is the complete opposite of Time to Melt. Both records pull from a clear love for the 70s, but while Time to Melt drew mainly from the pristine approach to pop music you might associate with Philly soul and disco, Plunge is a down-and-dirty love letter to the FM-radio-rock of the 70s, recorded in upstate New York over a few days with friends and collaborators such as Adrienne Lenker (of Big Thief) and El Kempner (of Palehound.)

The result is an album almost perfectly suited for WXPN’s Free at Noon – the electric energy that can be felt on Plunge transmitted perfectly to the room. Evian brought out a diverse crowd; teenage indie rock fans and older classic rockers stood side-by-side as Evian and crew delivered a performance that somehow felt sideways in time – the songs sounded classic, but not dated. Evian proved that Plunge is the type of album that demands to be heard not as a digital file on streaming services, but as a live performance; the first half of the setlist was simply the first half of Plunge itself, with Evian’s four-piece managing to flawlessly bring the energy of all those backing vocals and solos to a live setting. For an album so buzzed about because of its personnel, it’s an achievement that Evian was able to play it so masterfully with just three other musicians and not a single backing-track. During “Rollin In,” Sam and his guitarist switched their instruments mid-song, Sam holding a chord on his piano as his guitarist hit the next one, only for Sam to slide off his piano bench and pick up a saxophone. If it were any other band, it might come off as showy, but Sam’s songs are too honest, his stage persona too humble, for it to feel like anything other than natural.

If you missed this show, you can see Sam Evian performing Plunge at Johnny Brenda’s on Sunday, April 28th. You can also give Plunge a listen here.

Sam Evian
Free At Noon
  • Wild Days
  • Jacket
  • Rollin In
  • Why Does It Take So Long
  • Freakz
  • Next To You
  • Another Way
  • Stay
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