Sam Rowan – Kickstarted (2020)


“Kickstarted” is a new single by up-and-coming artist Sam Rowan. He is based in Brighton, U.K. and has released one EP called Buses(2020) as well as three singles; “Wondering”, “Could it Be” and “Kickstarted”, all of which were released in 2020. Kickstarted was released as recently as July 24th.

Cover art

The cover art was made by Rowan himself and features a collage of letters spelling out his name and the name of the song. When I first saw the cover art for the single, I expected to hear something akin to Punk Rock (which I don’t like).  Luckily for me, the music was not Punk Rock, which took me by surprise.

Spotify link to the song:


Produced by Sam Rowan, and all instruments performed by him.

Kickstarted starts with some very nice guitar chords. There’s almost a Bossa Nova sound to the first chord, which immediately grabbed my attention.

Eventually an eighties- sounding synthesizer enters, as does a steady backbeat on the drums. There is also what sounds like a digital metronome accenting the off-beats.

Rowan’s vocal melody is quite simple yet fits very well to the music. The song starts with the chorus, which is catchy. After the first chorus, a guitar enters and plays some melodic phrases. These phrases do what they’re supposed to do and do it well: namely serving the song. My first thought when I heard the guitar sound was that it reminded me of Robert Fripp’s and Adrian Belew’s guitar sounds on the King Crimson album Discipline (1981). That’s not a bad thing! After the guitar interlude, the chorus melody comes back again. Rowan continues playing some shorter melodic guitar phrases over the chorus.

A bridge is then introduced where the drums disappear and are replaced by a shaker. The synthesizer becomes more prominent in this part, and it has a distinctive 80’s feeling.

The drums then come back along with the chorus, which continues until the end of the song.

Towards the very end of the song, all instruments drop out except for the guitar, drums and digital metronome.

Final thoughts

At first, I wasn’t too sure I liked the sound of the drums in the song as I thought they sounded too machine-like and programmed to my liking. On further listens to the song, I found that it didn’t bother me anymore, as all other aspects of the song were good and well- constructed.

The biggest strength of the song in my opinion is the atmosphere, which is mainly provided by the guitar, synthesizer and vocal melody. I would describe the atmosphere as melancholic 80’s pop mixed with Indie Rock songwriting. The message of the lyrics is basically “Don’t take me for granted”, which also fit the melancholic yet up-lifting music.

“Kickstarted” should appeal to people who like the soundscape of 80’s pop mixed with the songwriting of Indie Pop.

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