Golden-toned guitars and a soft, humble voice come together to form a harmony that is unlike any other I’ve reviewed this season in Sam Levin’s incredible new single “Dairy Queen Queen.” From the moment that the track commences with a staggered strum, we’re invited to ride a dreamlike melody into the sunset in what amounts to a balladic performance that transcends limits most folk-pop musicians would never dare cross. It’s not the most experimental song that I’ve heard all year, but it’s certainly among the most original and heartfelt because of endearing, unparalleled elements of expression like this one.
Lyrically speaking, “Dairy Queen Queen” might be the most self-confident number that Sam Levin has penned since originally arriving on the scene as a young teenager just a few years ago. He’s so sure of himself, so comfortable with the verses, but there isn’t the faintest hint of cockiness in his delivery. Levin is relaxed in his most vulnerable admissions in this track, and if that’s something we can expect to hear more of as he continues to record sensational new music, he shouldn’t plan on staying an underground stalwart for much longer. To say that the mainstream is hungry for someone of his high caliber right now would be putting it quite mildly.
The kick in the percussion close to the midway-point in the song is utterly chill-inducing every time I hear it. This master mix is absolutely stunning in terms of its instrumental depth, but as commanding a pair of components as the guitars and tender drumming are, it’s the vocal track that tends to garner the lion’s share of my attention in any given listening session with “Dairy Queen Queen.” Levin’s vocal has never sounded as soulful and emotive as it does here, which is no small statement to make if you’ve heard his previous releases.
Sam Levin might not be the teenage songwriter that we were expecting to take 2019 by storm, but he is nonetheless the player that we need in modern folk music at the moment because of the brilliantly exposed poetry that defines songs like “Dairy Queen Queen.” He’s putting his older brethren in the American indie underground to shame in this single, and giving his critics plenty of reasons to consider him one of the most important young artists to watch as we approach the next decade in contemporary pop. As I see it, this song represents his biggest creative breakthrough yet.