Written by Hero Magnus

My favorite music used to be that of female singer-songwriters. I would listen to the same songs over and over again by Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles and Feist and Corinne Bailey Rae and all of these women who sang sad songs and made me feel something. I remember sitting in my room, awash with emotion about whatever it was that a lucky fourteen-year-old could possibly be sad about. I listen to all kinds of music now, but once in a while, something will bring me back. 

Sam Lynch is a Vancouver-based songwriter and singer. She has a few songs out already, including a short EP from 2018. Her recent single is called “Not My Body,” and it’s a woodwind-soaked masterpiece, painful and breathtaking. It’s really a pleasure to be premiering Sam Lynch’s new song, “Off the Rails,” here on Elicit Magazine. This track reminded me of why I listen to music in the first place. 

“Off the Rails” creates a lovely warm color palette, of oranges and yellows and reds and not exactly resignation, but acceptance. “Doctor says take those pills / you’ll be alright I know that you will / nothing wrong with dulling the edges of a too-sharp mind / you’ll be just fine,” she begins. Right away, Sam has such a clarity of voice. She’s broaching difficult subjects, and it feels like the truth, as though she’s scooping out her core to share with us.

“I hope the song can remind people to perhaps go a little easier on themselves, and know that things are always moving, even if you might feel off track.”

– Sam Lynch

“Somewhere between here and Montreal / I lost my goodbye lost sight of it all / I’ve slowed myself from a sprint to a crawl / and now my back is pinned against the wall,” she continues. Just like in “Not My Body,” her pain is nearly unbearable.

“I had been reflecting a lot on my own experiences with mental health, and how daunting and heavy it can feel to try and maintain balance. In writing this song, I was attempting to handle a relatively dark personal subject with a bit more lightness. The sentiment of going “off the rails” is most often used in a negative way, but the image of literally diverting myself from whatever “track” I felt obligated to be on felt very freeing. It’s throwing your hands in the air and being wherever you are, without constantly comparing your progress or success to a trivial point of reference.”

– Sam Lynch

With masterful instrumentation including searing flute and understated electric guitar, this song surrounds you like a flood; she’s drowning and we’re drowning along with her. And suddenly, at once, her head is above water: “in the shadows where I once stood / I see light,” she says finally, growing in strength, cautiously triumphant. She’s letting us go, too. It feels like a release.

“We recorded the drums, bass, and guitar live off the floor at a beautiful, spacious studio in Montréal. It was the first song that we tracked, and it was all very exciting. Listening back to the recording, I feel the same eager energy that was bouncing between Mishka (bass), Volodia (drums) and myself. We added Crumar, organ, and some janky upright piano afterward. I wanted the song to feel like walking into a normal-looking house, but with the walls covered in fun-house mirrors.”

– Sam Lynch

The closest comparison I can think of is to Brandi Carlile. Carlile, too, tells simple stories in her songs—deceptively simple, so that you’re feeling great and humming along until suddenly there are tears streaming down your face. I think that, similarly to Carlile, Lynch has the capacity to explore many genres and sounds, but hold on to her singular voice and clear metaphor. I am so excited to keep listening as Lynch as she builds her body of work.

Listen to the official premiere of “Off the Rails” below.

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