Samantha Fish

2019

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Samantha Fish first came to the attention of most of us as a Blues/Rock guitar slinger in the Girls With Guitars package tour, which also included Dani Wilde in 2011; the same year also saw the release of her ‘Runaway’ album. Together with ‘Black Wind Howlin’ (2013), these albums generated a core fan base, which helped to fill the smaller clubs whenever she visited the UK.

And a fairly regular visitor she has been too, although I last saw her play live when her German record company Ruf Records organised a double-header tour with Mike Zito; this was probably to promote her ‘Wild Heart’ (2015) album. Since then she has made a conscious effort to diversify from the Blues into other genres and, having not heard the 2017 pair of ‘Chills & Fever’ or ‘Belle Of The West’, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from her new offering, especially as Rolling Stone magazine had listed her as a “new Country artist to watch”.

Having moved from Ruf to Rounder, I think Americana would be a suitably broad term to cover Ms Fish’s many influences. She can certainly play guitar and there’s definitely still some Blues in the mix, but there’s also a Country tinge to some of the vocals, as well as some Southern Soul (think Stax or Muscle Shoals). That last influence is hardly surprising, given that ‘Kill Or Be Kind’ was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis.

The opener ‘Bulletproof’ hits the tarmac running, with an insistent boogie that feels like it’s made up of ZZ Top and Seasick Steve in equal parts; wonderful stuff! The title track introduces the horn section to good effect, as well as featuring some fine keyboard and guitar work. The horns are there again on ‘Love Letters’, while the Southern Soul feel increases further with the introduction of the two female backing singers on ‘Watch It Die’, which also boasts a fine guitar outro.

There’s more sweet guitar on ‘Trying Not To Fall In Love With You’ and ‘Love Your Lies’, which make ‘Fair-Weather’, which sits between them, feel rather lightweight by comparison. The ballads ‘Dream Girl’ and ‘She Don’t Live Around Here Anymore’ (the latter of which has, to these ears, the strongest Country influence) are also rather lighter in feel.

‘Dirty’ and ‘You Got It Bad’ don’t reach the energy levels of some of the earlier tracks, although ‘You Got It Bad’ has a particularly strong vocal. I’m not sure if this pair will close the album when it receives its general release, but the review copy appends radio edits of ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘Watch It Die’, which are probably the two strongest tracks.

So less Blues here than was once the case with Ms Fish, but still plenty to enjoy from an artist, whose musical horizons and fan base seem to be broadening neatly in step with each other. She’ll tour this album in the UK in February and March 2020.

Bulletproof (Tangle Eye Mix); Kill Or Be Kind; Love Letters; Watch It Die; Try Not To Fall In Love With You; Fair-Weather; Love Your Lies; Dream Girl; She Don’t Live Around Here; Dirty; You Got It Bad; Bulletproof (Radio Edit); Watch It Die (Radio Edit).

Gary Smith