Cara Brown

Samm Henshaw has plenty to be excited about.

He has just released his debut album, Untidy Soul, which is out now via AWAL. Last week, he also made his debut performing his song "Grow" on CBS's The Late Late Show with James Corden. And after a rocky couple of years for the music industry, he is finally performing live again.

"In October, I performed a show in London, and then I did some shows in the U.S.," says Henshaw, speaking with Variance just days before the album's release on Friday (Jan. 28). "It was my first live gigs since the beginning of 2020. It felt so good to be back."

He continues: "Covid started when I was on tour. So it was kind of—it caught me off guard a little bit. But I think, like a lot of artists, the more time passed, there's also that idea of questioning if we would be able to play live again. It's a strange time."

Fortunately, the British-Nigerian soul singer has managed to stay optimistic in these uncertain times, especially in his music, such as with the recent fan favorite "Chicken Wings," a playful track with an equally lighthearted video and a subsequent remix version featuring Mick Jenkins and Bando.

"Shooting all the videos has been fun, but 'Chicken Wings' has definitely been the most fun," recalls Henshaw. "It was a super hot day, which was really nice until I had to put on the chicken costume. But yeah, it was great. 

As for the record itself, it's a bit of a full circle moment, something Henshaw acknowledges in the album title.

"I remember doing interviews and people would be like, 'How would you describe your sound?' And I never knew how to answer that question," he explains. "And one day I just randomly responded—I was like, 'It's messy, untidy soul.' And I remember that just sticking with me, and I held on to that for a while. So when it came to coming up with a name for the project, I ended up going back to that."

But there's also another layer, which provides further context: "The other half of the meaning is just this understanding that I'm a bit of a mess, and that as humans we're all a bit of a mess, and we're not perfect. But it's an acknowledgment that every moment you have and every day that you wake up is an opportunity to try again and to better yourself and push forward and to persevere and to grow."

Henshaw says that even though he's releasing his album now, he hopes to release more music before the end of the year. And of course, he wants to get back on the road.

"If I can't tour, then I should just stop right here," he quips. "But really, I 100% need to tour. And yes, more music."