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There is a word, saudade, that describes the emotional state of longing for an absent loved one without detracting from a bright future. On the day Sam Island’s daughter was born, his father was imprisoned. “Light” explores the joy, fear, and anger that spawned from that day.

Having previously worked with the famous rapper, producer, and director Mex (Dr. Dre, J. Cole, and others), Sam Island brought his indie folk vibe to this solo venture. Poetic lyrics of birds, light, and freedom are stitched into the alt-R&B electronica soundscape. From harmonic choices to orchestration techniques, his whole history sits on his sleeve.

“Light” opens with soft, revelatory chords—an introspection before the first words find notes. Calling it a vocal melody undercuts its harmonic and rhythmic necessity. Dense vocal chord clusters color words and phrases, guiding our emotional understanding. “We need to breathe” weighs heavier than any other accent.

The absorbing harmony starkly contrasts with the plaintive pentatonic string solo nestled into the work. It is another piece of the puzzle, like the bright keys resonating over dark, questioning chords or complex drum fills with an erratic energy evoking motion without direction or a heart not sure why it continues to beat.

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Island found every way to express saudade and immortalized both his daughter and her grandfather’s incarceration.

Stream “Light” below.

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