Crain’s Third Record One of 2013’s Early Sleeper Hits

Courtesy:  Ramseur Records

Courtesy: Ramseur Records

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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Smile Empty Soul’s new album will make fans smile

California based Smile Empty Soul is getting ready to release its sixth full length studio release.  The band’s new album, “3’s”, hits store shelves May 22nd.  This new album is everything that fans have come to expect from the band.  It carries that familiar mix of Puddle of Mudd and Linkin Park throughout all without missing a step. 

The album opens with the solid, hard rocking song, ‘Carve.’  ‘Carve’ comes across lyrically as another song dealing with personal relationship issues.  And the music does a good job reflecting that.  It’s a perfect fit for any mainstream hard rock radio station.  From there, the album lets up just a little bit with ‘Ugly’, but not too much.  That little break is just enough to let listeners catch their breath before the band starts kicking things back into gear with ‘Warning’ and ‘Sleep Deprivation.’  That pair of songs was well placed in the album’s overall tracking in that it makes for a nice build to ‘Hiding Places.’  ‘Hiding Places’ is one of the standout songs on this album.  It starts off subdued, and builds to a solid rock feel that will get listeners’ horns in the air before landing them back on the ground in a manner just as subdued as the song started.  That easy end is another example of smart tracking, as it lets listeners catch their breath just enough before slamming them in the face again with ‘Let Go.’ 

The remainder of ‘3’s’ is just as solid as the first three quarters.  There really is nothing bad about this album.  As already noted, ‘3’s’ is everything that Smile Empty Soul’s fans have come to expect from the band.  Any number of songs on this release could be used as radio singles.  That’s a very good thing for this band, six albums in.  It shows that the band is doing something right.  And this Summer, even more fans will get to hear that for themselves not just because of the band’s new album.  Smile Empty Soul heads out on the road tomorrow to start touring in support of the album.  The tour kicks off in Riverside, California.  It’ll take the band along the west coast before swinging back up to the northwest.  From there, the band will take its tour across the midwest and up to the northeast before heading down the eastern seaboard and into the southeast by mid-June. Smile Empty Soul’s North Carolina fan base hasn’t been forgotten.  The band will stop at the Berkeley Cafe in Raleigh Monday, June 4th.  It will perform at Hooligan’s in Jacksonville Tuesday, June 5th. 

Fans can follow the band’s tour and even buy tickets through the band’s website, http://www.smileemptysoul.com.  Fans can also interact with each other and the band on the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/smileemptysoulmusic and on the band’s Twitter page, http://twitter.com/_smileemptysoul.