Sam Fender is a 27-year-old singer-songwriter from North Shields, England, who rose to fame with his debut album Hypersonic Missiles in 2019. His second album, Seventeen Going Under, was released on October 8, 2021, and has received critical acclaim for its honest and personal lyrics, as well as its anthemic and melodic sound.
The deluxe edition of the album features five additional tracks that showcase Sam Fender’s versatility and creativity. In this article, I will review each track of the album and share my thoughts on Sam Fender’s musical and lyrical evolution.
1. Seventeen Going Under
The title track and lead single of the album is a powerful opener that sets the tone for the rest of the album: helplessness, loss and, by the end, hope. Sam Fender reflects on his troubled teenage years, when he was exposed to violence, drugs and mental illness.
He also pays tribute to his mother, who suffered from fibromyalgia and was denied benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions. The song is propelled by a jangly electric guitar and a driving drum beat, with a catchy chorus that invites the listener to sing along. Sam Fender’s vocals are raw and emotive, conveying both anger and vulnerability.
2. Getting Started
The second track is a contrast to the first one, as it is a upbeat and optimistic song about overcoming self-doubt and pursuing your dreams. Sam Fender sings about his journey from playing in pubs to selling out arenas, and how he had to overcome his insecurities and fears along the way.
The song has a classic rock vibe, with a prominent saxophone solo and a soaring melody. Sam Fender’s vocals are confident and energetic, showing his growth as an artist and a person.
The third track is a political rant that tackles various issues such as war, religion, corruption and inequality. Sam Fender lists a series of historical and contemporary events that have shaped the world, from Jesus’ crucifixion to Jeffrey Epstein’s death, and questions the morality and logic behind them.
The song has a punk rock edge, with a fast tempo and a distorted guitar riff. Sam Fender’s vocals are aggressive and sarcastic, delivering his message with a biting wit.
4. Get You Down
The fourth track is a romantic ballad that deals with the ups and downs of a relationship. Sam Fender sings about how he loves his partner despite their flaws and mistakes, and how he wants to make them happy.
The song has a slow-building tension that erupts in a guitar-saxophone duel and climaxes with a swarm of strings. Sam Fender’s vocals are tender and passionate, expressing his devotion and affection.
5. Long Way Off
The fifth track is a introspective song that explores Sam Fender’s struggles with fame and success. Fender sings about how he feels disconnected from his roots and his fans, and how he worries about losing his authenticity and integrity.
The song has a folk rock influence, with acoustic guitar chords and harmonica notes. Sam Fender’s vocals are melancholic and reflective, revealing his doubts and fears.
6. Spit of You
The sixth track is a personal song that addresses Sam Fender’s relationship with his father. Fender sings about how he inherited his father’s traits, both good and bad, and how he came to understand him better after witnessing his grief over his grandfather’s death.
The song has a moody heartland rocker feel, with electric guitar riffs, saxophone lines and mandolin accents. Sam Fender’s vocals are sincere and heartfelt, acknowledging his father’s influence on him.
7. Last To Make It Home
The seventh track is a nostalgic song that reminisces about Sam Fender’s childhood friends and their adventures together. Fender sings about how they used to sneak out at night, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and cause trouble, but also how they supported each other through hard times.
The song has a indie rock flair, with catchy guitar hooks and drum beats. Sam Fender’s vocals are warm and cheerful, celebrating his friendship bonds.
8. The Leveller
The eighth track is a social commentary that criticizes the class system and the inequality it creates. Sam Fender sings about how the rich exploit the poor, how the media manipulates the masses, how the politicians lie to the people, and how the system is rigged against the working class.
The song has a heavy rock sound, with distorted guitar chords and pounding drum fills. Sam Fender’s vocals are defiant and angry, denouncing the injustice and oppression he sees.
The ninth track is a motivational song that encourages the listener to keep going and never give up. Sam Fender sings about how he overcame his depression and anxiety, and how he found his purpose and passion in music.
The song has a pop rock appeal, with a catchy chorus and a uplifting melody. Sam Fender’s vocals are inspirational and empowering, sharing his mantra for life.
The tenth track is a philosophical song that questions the nature of reality and the meaning of life. Sam Fender sings about how he feels lost and confused in a world that is full of contradictions, illusions and lies.
He also wonders about his own identity and role in the society, and whether he can make a difference or not. The song has a psychedelic rock touch, with a swirling guitar effect and a hypnotic rhythm. Sam Fender’s vocals are curious and perplexed, searching for answers and truth.
11. The Dying Light
The eleventh and final track of the standard edition of Seventeen Going Under is a emotional song that pays tribute to Sam Fender’s late grandmother, who passed away from cancer. Fender sings about how he misses her and how he wishes he could see her again.
He also thanks her for her love and guidance, and promises to carry on her legacy. The song has a reflective piano ballad style, with a simple melody and a minimal arrangement. Sam Fender’s vocals are somber and grateful, honoring his grandmother’s memory.
12. Better of Me
The first bonus track of the deluxe edition is a upbeat song that celebrates Sam Fender’s resilience and optimism. Fender sings about how he has overcome his challenges and setbacks, and how he has learned from his mistakes and failures.
He also expresses his gratitude for his supporters and fans, who have helped him along the way. The song has a folk pop charm, with a lively melody and a cheerful chorus. Sam Fender’s vocals are joyful and thankful, showing his positive attitude.
13. Pretending That You’re Dead
The second bonus track of the deluxe edition of Seventeen Going Under is a dark song that explores Sam Fender’s coping mechanism for dealing with grief and loss. Fender sings about how he pretends that his loved ones who have passed away are still alive, and how he imagines conversations with them in his head.
He also admits that he knows this is unhealthy and unrealistic, but he can’t help it. The song has a alternative rock edge, with a gloomy melody and a haunting chorus. Sam Fender’s vocals are somber and desperate, revealing his pain and denial.
14. Angel in Lothian
The third bonus track of the deluxe edition is a romantic song that tells the story of Sam Fender’s first love, who he met in Edinburgh when he was 18 years old. Fender sings about how they fell in love at first sight, how they spent their time together in the city, and how they parted ways when she had to go back to her home country.
He also wonders if she still remembers him or not. The song has a indie pop appeal, with a sweet melody and a nostalgic chorus. Sam Fender’s vocals are tender and wistful, recalling his fond memories.
15. Good Company
The fourth bonus track of the deluxe edition is a humorous song that pokes fun at Sam Fender’s bad habits and lifestyle choices. Fender sings about how he drinks too much, smokes too much, eats too much junk food, watches too much TV, sleeps too late, procrastinates too much, and generally wastes his time.
He also jokes that he doesn’t need anyone else to keep him company, because he has himself to entertain him. The song has a blues rock vibe, with a catchy guitar riff and a playful chorus. Sam Fender’s vocals are cheeky and self-deprecating, making light of his flaws.
The fifth and final bonus track of the deluxe edition is a spooky song that describes Sam Fender’s experience with paranormal phenomena in his childhood home. Fender sings about how he used to hear strange noises, see weird shadows, feel cold spots, witness objects moving by themselves, and sense an eerie presence in his house.
He also claims that he still believes in ghosts and spirits, even though he is an adult now. The song has a rockabilly twist, with a fast-paced guitar solo and a catchy chorus.
The Bottom Line
Seventeen Going Under is an album that showcases Sam Fender’s musical and lyrical maturity, as well as his classic rock ambition and full-hearted sincerity. It is an album that is rooted in 2021, but also looks back to the past, both personally and historically.
Seventeen Going Under is an album that balances darkness and light, despair and hope, anger and love. It is an album that punches the air and the gut, and leaves the listener with a lasting impression.