SASAMI, our February Artist of the Month, operates best with duality. Whether it’s the careful balancing of genres in her music, her intentional separation of songwriting and production, or the juxtaposition of conflicting emotions, the singer-songwriter (born Sasami Ashworth) knows it’s more useful to examine both sides of the coin.
Across the 11 tracks of her fascinating, eclectic sophomore LP Squeeze (out Friday, February 25th), the LA-based artist frequently pits her own ideas against each other, levying chaos with assurance, unspeakable feelings with cries of catharsis.
Indeed, Squeeze is a dense, thorny album, peppered with moments of calm but consistently raging. Duality is certainly a concept that SASAMI wanted at the forefront of Squeeze: taking inspiration from a ghost in Japanese folklore called the “Nure-onna (濡女, or “wet woman”),” SASAMI portrays this deity on the album cover as a snake with the head of a woman. According to the legend, the Nure-onna would lure potential victims by giving people a small bundle that resembled a baby; if the person held the bundle, they were spared, but if they discarded it, they’d be killed.
This story of duplicitous judgment epitomizes the album: there are songs that seem to explode out of SASAMI in a nu-metal sludge, juxtaposed with the authentic, country-tinged stylings of classic rock. On some songs she sounds like Jenny Lewis, others like System of a Down, and even songs where it sounds like Jenny Lewis is the frontwoman of System of a Down. Yet, all these styles blend together in a way that is undeniably from SASAMI’s mind, never losing the dark, prismatic touch that characterized her 2019 self-titled LP.