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Song You Need to Know: Sam Brittain, ‘Trap Door’

Adelaide’s Sam Brittain has unveiled “Trap Door”, a reflective new single which may be an early contender for song of the year.

Image of Sam Brittain

Morgan Sette*

As 2022 slowly begins to show its true colours, so too has Sam Brittain given us an indicator of what he’s all about, sharing an early contender for song of the year by way of the mesmerising “Trap Door”.

Releasing his single “Hitchhiker” last year, the Adelaide musician undeniably drew some comparisons to the likes of Bruce Springsteen for his powerful songwriting, affecting vocal delivery, and truly stunning compositional skills. However, as he continues to look toward the release of his first new album in a few years, he’s given fans another taste by way of latest single, “Trap Door”.

As Brittain explains, “Trap Door” chronologically followed “Hitchhiker” when it came to the writing process, yet its inspirations were far different from its predecessor. Having spent years as an almost nomadic artist, the halting stasis of these last few years left Brittain faced with exactly what it was he’d been trying to avoid: routine.

I had always thrived on chaos, uncertainty and new experiences; I guess after six years of busking your way around the world and living off of the small fees from shows and the kindness of strangers kept that addiction well fed,” he explains. “Coming home, settling in, getting sick, undertaking vocal surgery, and ultimately saying goodbye to the life I had known came with its challenges. 

“I did all the normal things people tend to do whilst grieving a loss (something I had become very familiar with over the years) I stayed out too late, partied hard, searched hard, and ultimately lost hard… again,” he adds. “Anything to numb the pain until that bottom ridden with rocks comes soaring up to meet you.”

However, Brittain wasn’t content to continue in this vein, and as such, he realised it was time for a change. The result was “Trap Door”, a track which – much like “Hitchhiker” – encompasses his heartland style of rock, paired with soulful, seasoned vocals, and poetic lyrics.

Writing the song in the early hours of a morning spent grieving the loss of his former life, Brittain explains that the run-down Californian-style bungalow he utilised as a home and a recording studio wasn’t just a place to lay his head; rather, it was a place to unpack the many era of his life and reflect upon them.

“In 27 years, it was the first time I had the photo frames, various trinkets I had collected on the road, all my books and records, and most importantly my instruments all in the same place,” he explains. “I guess I just started documenting my surroundings and what had led to a disconnect from myself.  The words came so fast and in my experience those songs are always the ones I am most proud of.

“It’s about falling, it’s about flying, it’s about love, loss and owning my choices and the roads they led me down,” he concludes. “It’s about all that and everything in-between; and it’s about nothing at all. I was just trying to capture that feeling of deep self-reflection. Hopefully I captured that.”

Indeed, he does capture that, with “Trap Door” appearing as a song that is not only emotionally affecting, but truly moving. Working with the same band as his last track (which includes members of fellow Adelaide outfit Wanderers), the raw emotion in the track is palpable, and it speaks to an experience that many of us have experienced in recent years – adding to the impact of the track.

Though it remains to be seen just when we’ll be receiving Brittain’s new album, songs like “Trap Door” prove to us that it’s on track to be one of the year’s best releases.

Sam Brittain’s “Trap Door” is out now.