Samantha Crain is one of the music industry’s best kept secrets. This twenty-six year old Oklahoman has been making waves with her upcoming third full length studio release, Kid Face. Crain’s new album has been getting attention from both the public sphere and that of public broadcasting with positive reviews from Rolling Stone magazine, Spin, and National Public Radio. What’s most intriguing about the album isn’t so much its songs, but the ability of the songs to keep listeners’ attention throughout the course of the record. Considering that the album was recorded and mix over the course of just nine days, the album becomes that much more impressive.
Crain’s third album is a solid piece of county/folk that not only Crain’s fans will enjoy but also those of fellow female artists Nora Jones, and Regina Specktor among a handful of others. Its opener, ‘Never Going Back’ makes for quite the interesting starting point for Crain on this album. The song, as Crain herself writes of it, is about an individual who had been involved in an affair but has made the life altering decision to not go back; thus the song’s title. It goes completely against the mold of the stereotypical country song. Instead of someone singing about having lost a partner, this is an empowering song about someone who has made the decision to get out of a relationship that would have otherwise led to such a country song. She writes in ‘Never Going Back’, “The ending of ten thousand dreams/My soul has finally been set free/From his cool eyes/I’ll hide myself in softer storms/Crawl out of holes/Become reborn/To my surprise…I’ve stayed afloat in quicker sand/But now I have a place to stand and call my own/I had a deal with man and God/One let me down and one did not/So I made my way back home.” The uplifting and infectious sound of the song and the equally positive lyrics make this a good start to this record. On top of that, the two together make for a song that is sure to be an instant hit for Crain’s fans.
Crain doesn’t note in writing about the songs on this album the roots of ‘Never Going Back.’ More than likely, it had no influence from any personal bearings. Though in reading through what she had to note about other songs, many of the other songs on this album did in fact come from personal experience. And one of the best of those songs is another song that goes almost completely against the grain of standard pop song writing. That song comes late on the album in the form of ‘Somewhere All The Time.’ Crain writes of this song that its influence comes from her life on the road. She notes that travelling is in fact, her “obsession and her method.” Although sometimes she does need a break. And thus this song was born. It’s a response to the people who ask her if being on the road so much is difficult. She writes of those who ask her, “Everybody wants to go somewhere/Everybody wants to go all the time/Don’t you ever want to sit down some/Take a little time.” Her response is two-fold. By and large, she writes of the joys of touring despite things like vehicles breaking down and people who seemingly get paranoid when she’s out on the road. For everything that she loves of being on the road, Crain does explain that need to get away as she sings, “Somebody better say a prayer for me/Cause I need a break from this whole scene/Spend some time in the grasslands/And my man to love me/Could you forget about me for a while.” As with the album’s opener, this is another nice upbeat piece all the way around that fans will instantly enjoy. It’s really one of those classic storytelling style songs that will especially impress fans of singer songwriters the likes of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. And it makes for one more piece of the whole that will make this album a favorite both for long-time fans and for those who are new to Samantha Crain’s music.
As has already been noted here, a big part of what makes Samantha Crain’s new album so impressive is her ability and seeming drive to go against the grain of standard music and general human standards. As the album nears its final notes, listeners get one more song proving that in ‘Ax.’ It really comes across as a song of social commentary, so to speak. Crain writes about the song that ‘Ax’ is her response to the seemingly increasing negativity in the world today and that while it seems “against her own nature most days”, she wrote this as her own “call to try and be one of the giving and humane.” In simple terms, ‘Ax’ is proof that people can be good. They just have to try. She writes, “You can put your ax back in its place/Your face is wearing all that awful hate/It’s tough to be afraid/But you have to let it lay.” This is such a short verse in an equally short song. But being such a short song and short verse, it proves that less is more. She says so much in so few words. The gentility of the song’s musical backing adds even more emotion to the song. It’s just her singing along with a piano and guitar. The minimalist approach—both lyrically and musically–harkens back to another era of music’s greatest eras past. That being considered too, one can’t help but appreciate this song even more both in itself and as a part of the bigger picture that is Crain’s new album.
Samantha Crain offers audiences a lot of impressive material, both musically and lyrically, as has been noted here. The songs already mentioned are just a tiny picture of what audiences can expect from her upcoming release. It offers eight more tracks of which listeners will each find their own favorite. The album will be available February 19th on Ramseur Records. In celebration of its upcoming release, Samantha Crain will be touring in support of the album. Her tour starts January 23rd in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Berkeley Café. Doors open at 7pm and the show begins at 8pm. For full information on the show, including ticket information, go online to http://www.berkeleycafe.net.
Her performance in Raleigh will be followed up by a set of dates in Wilmington, North Carolina and Pembroke, North Carolina between January 24th and 26th. From there, she will be heading up to New York before making her way through the Midwest. Fans can get a full tour itinerary online at http://www.facebook.com/Samanthacrainmusic and http://www.samanthacrain.com.
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