Samm Henshaw’s “Broke” celebrates the joys of doing nothing and not feeling bad about it.
Must Peep Monday #18
Broke // Samm Henshaw
This is the second Samm Henshaw song that I’ve featured on Must Peep Monday. I don’t mean to show favoritism or get hyper-focused, but I think if you give “Broke” a listen, you’ll understand my choice. “Broke” bleeds liveliness and energy from every snare pop and trumpet blast compelling anyone who lends an ear to get up and boogie with almost hypnotic persuasion. You’ll never feel so good about doing so little.
It’s hard to know for sure how much of the track was actually recorded live, but just knowing that nearly all of it could be played live lends it a tactile physicality that’s rare in modern music. It’s likely there are some digital elements, but between the crunchy, popping drums, groovy keys, and exuberant brass section, the instruments certainly don’t feel like they need any help. You can nearly sense the band just on the other side of your speakers — or headphones or whatever else you’re playing the song through.
The subtle crackle of vinyl quietly sizzles in the background, injecting the song with the soul and mojo of so many of the classics actually recorded on vinyl. Though the effect has become a bit gimmicky as an easy way for musicians to lend their work an air of nostalgia, Henshaw’s use is totally warranted and naturally gels with the style.
Henshaw’s singing voice is truly rare with an undeniable magnetism and presence behind the mic. His range and control allow him to forget about hitting notes and instead focus on incorporating his personality and charisma into his vocals — which he brings in spades. In the second verse, he sings “Parading in my Calvins with no shame,” and then all the music cuts out and he cries “Good lord!” with the grit and punch of a veteran soul singer (around 1:28). He absolutely owns the moment. It’s electric, showstopping, and just so damn fun.
Henshaw’s harmonies in the breakdown are heavenly and sound like every church’s dream choir — a quality he achieves all by himself. Vocalists tend to feature other artists to carry harmonies so that the unique qualities of their voice don’t pile up and dominate the song. This is not the case with “Broke,” and it doesn’t need to be. Henshaw so comfortably commands every beat and harmony that I wouldn’t even want him sharing the track with anyone else.
For a song about laziness, “Broke” is almost paradoxically peppy and upbeat. It’s not about the couch-slump variety of laziness, but rather the kind of laziness that’ll have you dancing around the kitchen in your socks and underpants instead of whatever you’re supposed to be doing. This makes the song work just as well as a getting-stuff-done song as it does a not-doing-stuff song. “Broke” relishes in its own self-indulgence and joy and encourages you to do the same — no matter how much you are or aren’t getting done.
If today just feels like a couch-dwelling, pajama-wearing, Netflix-binging lazy day, your soundtrack for the afternoon is here. Henshaw’s “Broke” will have you feeling totally shameless — and maybe even satisfied with yourself — about doing absolutely nothing all day. I’ve been playing it back-to-back all week, even before I decided I wanted to write about it. It’s just got that wordless X-factor: that special musical something that makes a song so much more than the sum of its parts. So go ahead, do nothing today. You’ve earned it. Samm Henshaw certainly thinks so.