An immediate honesty flows from Jimi Somewhere’s songwriting. The creative exterior of Benjamin Schandy, the indie popsmith peels back layers of his life with a sharp pen and a celestial-bodied vocal. As with his new song “Jesus,” a collaboration with Kacy Hill, the Norway native reflects back on his Christian upbringing and what faith even means for him now.
“I don’t know what to believe in anymore,” he sings, fully admitting his struggle from the outset. “I don’t think I can save you / I haven’t prayed in a couple years now / And I don’t think that I am brave enough / And I never met Jesus…”
Co-written with producer Milo Orchis, the song layers on a trickling creek bed and other lush, naturistic instrumentation. It’s almost as if Somewhere’s expedition through matters of the heart lead him into a forested wonderland of redemption, enlightenment, and hope. By the time Hill’s voice descends, he has already achieved a particular level of heavenly bliss, and as it all comes to a thrilling climax, guitars wailing in the clouds, Somewhere lets out a primal howl.
“When I first came up with the chords, it sounded like something I used to hear at these christian summer camps I was at when I was younger,” he tells American Songwriter. “Both Milo and I grew up and out of the church, so I had been wanting to write about that and faith for a while. It just felt like the right moment to address it.”
Somewhere sifts through broken fragments, piecing it all back together to perhaps find a balance that makes sense. He teeters between faith and disbelief with an enrapturing urgency. “Jesus” arrives undeniably immersive, an invitation for the listener to engage with the journey, as well. “I guess, [the music is] this larger than life feeling of freedom. Just like running through a hill or standing on the top of a big mountain. These themes I’m reflecting on can feel very big, so I wanted the instrumental to reflect that.”
When the instruments crash like starbursts against the sky, there is a considerable catharsis that bookends the story. “I wanted the ending to be like this big relief. This feeling of letting it all out. Screaming,” the musician explains. “So, we tried to make everything else build up to that so when it finally hits, it hits. Gives a bigger satisfaction.”
A longtime Kacy Hill fan, since her 2015 release of “Dinner,” which “has gotten me through so much,” he says, Somewhere sought out a mutual friend to make the connection in the recording studio. “She was kind enough to swing by, and we got along well. Surreal moment for me considering just a couple years ago I was in my mom’s basement listening to her EP ‘Bloo’ over and over, and now we are here together in LA making music.”
“Jesus” is the latest appetizer to Jimi Somewhere’s debut LP, Nothing Gold Can Stay, expected November 20 on Next Wave/Ultra Records. One of the set’s early entries, “I just wanted to be an open book from the start, so having such a personal song as one of the openers felt right,” he remarks. “All the songs on the album also kind of revolve around these endings in my life and my adolescence. Faith has definitely been a big part of that.”
Listen to “Jesus” below.