Anyone over the age of 30 has a pretty competent grasp of what it feels like to get older. Everyone with half a mind can agree that the difference between five years is far more momentous than one would ever expect. And when at 25 you think you have life figured out, by 30 you’ve had enough curveballs thrown at you to start all over again. When Samantha Fish debuted in 2012 with her freshmen album, Runaway, she was relatively young and modest. Her humble blues/rock jams reached some underground attention, and the Blues Music Awards acknowledged that she was shockingly talented, and gave her a sincere victory. It was blues, but it wasn’t. There was enough early 70’s Rolling Stones to tip a hat too, and even the likes of Aerosmith circa-Toys in the Attic crept its metallic bluesiness out of the swamp.
From this humble debut surfaced an artist more confident and more in love with the sounds she debuted with. So Ruf Records is backing her sophomore album, Black Wind Howlin, and it is everything she exemplified in her debut, only proportionally grander, smarter, and superior this second time around.
‘Go to Hell’ erupts with a huge drum pounding and some straight no-holds-barred riffing. Samantha Fish and the band keep things groovy through the entire run, and the continued drumming keeps the pace as slight guitar riffs jump in and leave in a flash. It is a great formula. ‘Last September’ is my favorite kind of closer. Drawn out but not too much, epic but not comically so, it is the perfect way to close 50 minutes of soulful blues/rock. Coming right off the heels of the title track, Black Wind Howlin, which remains the album’s best song by a landslide. The riffs rarely overstay their welcome, and better yet, they take a backseat to Samantha’s vocal prowess.
Samantha Fish toys with masculinity and femininity with this bizarre duality. Just as she destroys conventions of gender, she throws you another intriguing look at tenderness in her ballads. Her rockers rock, but her sleepers make you FEEL something. It’s all amusing at worst, and absolutely enchanting at its best. Vocally, she has this subdued growl that obviously fits the style of the music. But one cannot help but think that behind that rugged swamp/rock approach, she is a soaring voice just waiting for that John Mayer ballad to bring it out.
Of course, that was never the point. Black Wind Howlin is dirty and grimy, made all the more appealing when you consider that it is Samantha Fish’s vocals overlaying the whole thing. It borrows a lot from the Jack White playbook, but if you were to throw out any indie act to borrow from, he would be the one. Samantha Fish channels a little Stevie Nicks in spots as well, which will always be a compliment despite her spotty efforts in the last decade and a half.
The Samantha Fish band have enough of the own unique style to hopefully stamp their own niche in the world. It is certainly a charming thing to have a girl front a swamp/blues group, but the taboo of it has been largely gone ever since ‘Heart’ broke out ‘Barracuda’ and Joan Jett punked out all her male peers.
Regardless, Samantha Fish knows what she is doing. She tenderizes softer ballads and heavy rockers in a fury of groove-based ‘funk and roll.’ She is neither reinventing nor reiterating the formula, but existing in this approachable little segment of rock that turns heads and sells records.
Stay close to Samantha, she is most assuredly going places.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://www.samanthafish.com/
Photo Credit to the Amazing Jerry Moran at:
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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