Samantha Fish is the Belle of The West on her second studio album of 2017. Belle Of The West takes us on a completely different musical journey a complete contrast to Chills & Fever. For this album, Samantha has gone deep into the roots of Blues, country and Mississippi Hill Country music. Samantha Fish has pushed aside preconceptions about her, kicking the door open to break boundaries and let her creativity, artistry and golden talent shine through as she takes the title as Belle of The West.
Samantha travelled to Zebra Ranch to record the album retracing the footsteps taken with Wild Heart (2015) with the influence of Luther Dickinson and friends shining through but never dampening or curtailing the heady heights and depths of Fish interpretation of the blues her way.
Opening with American Dream the click of drums sticks beat of the drum and life gets the listener marching to Fish’s branded form of acoustic fuelled country blues. With Luther Dickinson as the producer, we are promised from the first number a studio album that flexes its muscles with a natural fluidity the instruments and vocals find the tone taking the tune and vocals to unfold all the depths of roots music with a story to tell. The tempo goes down and Sam’s vocals deepen as we find out why there is Blood In the Water. With fiddles and guitar, the story will not be a happy one as Lillie Mae on violin picks up with a haunting melodic riff. Infectious, beguiling as roots of Eastern European folk are entwined into hill country music. The sound is held together by the power and confidence of Samantha’s vocals. This is an original that just demands being heard on repeat.
The storytelling is the theme of the album, not power guitar chords and fast electric sound. The inclusion of the band talking before the music begins gives the album a personal and warm feeling. This is studio music kept close to the live sound. Now we are in another bar another hotel room alone with guitar and violin waiting for a call. Samantha captures the emotions and draws them out on every syllable sung we connect to her as she sings ‘Needing you more than you will ever know. We here all the conversations we have left unsaid’, emotions never shared and loneliness we have experienced as we get up close to the vocal glories that define the Belle of The West.
In between the originals are a trio of carefully chosen covers fitting perfectly as a glove into the tone and feel of the album. With Poor Black Mattie the tempo rises to match the beating of your pulse as the music soars through your soul sending tingles down your spine. RL Burnside feel and magic captured as Fish answers to Lightnin’ Malcolm’s call as gospel captured with some sweet harp lead breaks. Lillie Mae’s Nearing Home is luscious full curling violin and as Samantha’s vocals take a dreamy air as the melody is woven into the lyrics. Capping them is the title track from the pen of Jimbo Mathus. We now are on the river riding the lady we love best. The music and tone shaped by the undulation on the river that like the whole album on every listen you hear another nuance and the deeper meanings behind the songs chosen by Samantha Fish.
With the deep bass, Samantha Fish on No Angels has backing vocals that add to the vibe and gives her something to work on as we find out there is No Angel around here full of deep bass grooves the Mississippi flows strongly through the music that captivates. Samantha surrounded by quality musicians that add to the tracks, the central role throughout is the vocals that have a depth that colour the lyrics and shapes them with emotional maturity, empathy and understanding. The music is genuine and authentic, this is the sound that Fish wants to define her as 2017 closes. As the album reaches its finale we have Nearing Home percussive full lilting sound from the violin and Samantha poses the question where are we going? With a slowness that builds and weaves throughout the song. Then the final track Gone For Good, leaving us with a foot tapping number. Gone for Good has a rawness, dirtier sound reflecting the lyrics and a celebration you are gone for good. Raw and dirty leaving you shouting don’t go Samantha Fish. Giving you the perfect excuse to slow down and sit back and rewind back to the beginning. You will cherish the time spent listening to the classy album Belle of The West.
The album is full of songs that just take time to get to know, this is an album that is not the product of the digital Download, listen for a few seconds or once then throw away. Belle of The West is an album to savour, get to know the intricacies of the instrumentation the style of the vocals capturing emotions as the story unfolds. Like friends, invest the time and get to know Samantha Fish, Belle of the West whether this is a pit stop on a journey of a musician maturing and developing her approach to blues. One thing is a certainty that like a good vintage on the sound, it grows in complexity with every tasty listen.
Belle of the West – Samantha Fish – RUF Records
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- American Dream
- Blood In The Water
- Need You More
- Dan’t Say You Love Me
- Belle of the West
- Poor Black Mattie
- No Angels
- Nearing Home
- Gone For Good