Ruf [Released by 29.06.15]
‘Wild Heart’ is a stylist departure for Samantha Fish, a young blues-rock artist who is flexible and young enough to soak up new and different influences and bring them to bear on her own mature song-writing
‘Wild Heart’ retains Samantha blues-rock roots, but stretches the genre into a rootsy direction full of percolating rhythms, subtle playing and narrative driven songs.
The album is the result of some breathless recording session in Louisiana and Mississippi as well as a writing session in Nashville with Jim McCormick. The geography is highly relevant here, as it seeps through the pores of the songs, which are nailed by the Hill Country stellar rhythm section of Luther Dickinson and Brady Blades.
The signature lived-in feel, dirt sounding guitars, sludgy rhythms and an essential down-home heart, means her usual vibrancy is channeled into the songs.
This in turn pushes her vocals to new heights and unlocks the door to different guitar tones and a variety of solos.
‘Wild Heart’ isn’t an instantly accessible album, reflecting both the thoughtful lyrics and deep grooves that reveal themselves with repeated plays. It’s an album that at it best finds Samantha breaking new ground both as a song writer and a musician. And in those very few moments when it doesn’t immediately sparkle, you get the impression she shrugs her shoulders, walks away and puts it down to experience and moves on. Truth be told, the Luther Dickinson’s production keeps the dirt in the grooves and the album on track.
She rocks out on ‘Turn It Up’ and ‘Bitch On The Run’ and gets down low on the self penned ‘Blame It On the Moon,’ which is a great example of how her southern accompanists give her material extra depth and feel, on a song full of shimmering guitars and gentle nuanced percussion.
She’s even better on the self penned ‘Lost Myself’, as she conveys real feel without a trace of cliché; “I speak your name but you already got my number, Looking for a way out, but you only found an end.”
The backing to this track is superb, all nuanced lap steel and stuttering rhythms that underpin her acoustic lines, while her excellent vocal performance brings the lyrics to life.
‘Highway’s Holding Me Now’ is perhaps the best effort from her 5 song collaboration with Nashville based song writer Jim McCormick. She matches a fine vocal with a wiry ‘live in the studio’ attack that cuts through the song with the roughest of edges.
The opening ‘Road Runner’ finds her in power trio mode with bv’s from Shontelle Norman-Beatty and Risse Norman, over double tracked guitars and reflective lyrics: “Counting tears while the cigarettes burn, I was a fool to think he’d return.”
There’s similar lyrical imagery on ‘A Place To Fall,’ a Nashville influenced country blues song, co-written with Jim McCormick: “I’ll lay my claim to my share of the blame that I rightfully own, And I’ll keep my radio tuned to the stations that play those old country love songs,” on which she extends her vocal range over dirt sounding guitars and lap steel.
‘Go Home’ is an acoustic based song on which her pristine diction contrasts subtly with the bv’s to give the poignant lyrics an extra bite, as the song eventually settles on a descending hook that draw you in.
Her incisive phrasing cuts through the back porch feel of Charlie Patton’s ‘Jim Lee Blues Pt.1’, as Luther Dickinson switches to mandolin, while Lightnin’ Malcolm adds guitar. This down-home track is counter-balanced by the rocking ‘Turn It Up’, on which her exclamatory ‘C’mon now’ encourages Luther Dickinson to add some dirt sounding slide.
‘Show Me’ is a relationships song powered by a sledgehammer groove with extravagant cymbal work from Brady Blade. And having explored Hill Country Blues, she returns to her own rocking style on the title track with a galloping rhythm, and a trademark sinuous solo
‘Wild Heart’ is more than the mere sum of its parts. It’s mature album by a nascent song writer who is confident enough to embrace new musical avenues with a sense of adventure and self confidence that is reflected in this enjoyable album. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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