Bands to Watch #349: Samantha Crain

By on Wednesday, 3rd June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

American folk singer/songwriter Samantha Crain studied English literature at Oklahoma Baptist University before embarking on her songwriting career, so it should come as no surprise that her songs reveal a particular talent for interweaving sound and story. Crain’s Oklahoma roots are evident both in her musical style, which is firmly rooted in classic Americana, and in her lyrical references to character and place. Her third album and UK debut release ‘Kid Face’ opens with the striking lyric “This horse kicked me in the heart then asked me if I want another start” before taking off into the galloping rhythm of ‘Never Going Back’. Throughout the album, Crain’s singing voice is rich and intense, with just a hint of grit sneaking into its timbre here and there, and her delivery has a very natural rhythmic tendency, as evidenced in the sultry swing of ‘Taught to Lie’, and the slow shuffle of the album’s title track, featured in the live performance video below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/2G86W_zg0ow[/youtube]

Crain has recently followed up on ‘Kid Face’ with a new track called ‘Outside the Pale’. Immediately distinctive with a prominent bowed string instrumentation over the usual percussion and guitar, the song is equally striking in the defiant perspective of its lyrics: “the underdogs of human thought within the infrared / you and I, we tell the stories the TV won’t release / they keep us in the wild, under branch and thorn and tree / outside the pale”. While Crain doesn’t specifically intend to write protest songs, she says that her stories “are told from the perspective of the underdog, the 99% of us that are working people. They might not be literal protest songs, but the lives of the people within these songs speak at the same volume if you listen.”

The aforementioned ‘Outside the Pale’ lyric also contains the title to Crain’s upcoming fourth album ‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’. The new album continues in the vein of ‘Kid Face’, with Crain once again enlisting John Vanderslice for production duties, but it takes a more dramatic musical tone, often diverging into jazz territory with its expansive instrumental arrangements and subtly nuanced rhythmic ideas. Standout track ‘Kathleen’ showcases the full expressive range of Crain’s singing voice, from her blissfully light upper register tones down to the velvety texture of her lower notes. By contrast, the steady chugging tempo of ‘Big Rock’ is rough around the edges, gaining traction in the rhythm section as Crain sings through the single-mindedly determined chorus. The full album ‘Under Branch & Thorn & Tree’ is due for release on the 17th of July via indie label Full Time Hobby, but you can stream ‘Outside the Pale’ just below, courtesy of Full Time Hobby’s Soundcloud.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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