NPR's The 50 Best Albums Of 2020 - Rated 25/50!
It's been just under three years since Samantha Crain released her 5th album and the elapsed time it took to make this 6th record was troubled to say the least. In 2017, a fusion of injuries sustained in multiple car wrecks, tendinitis, carpal tunnel, and psychosomatic manifestation of physical ailments caused debilitating alternations of pain, numbness, and paralysis in her hands and wrists. It made playing instruments impossible. A dark period of time ensued as a result, assuming she had lost her method of self-expression and her vehicle of creativity. Through various forms of mental and physical therapies, she slowly regained the sustained use of her hands again. Having come to terms with the evident ending of her time as a performing singer/songwriter, she felt as if she'd entered into a "bonus round" and immediately went to work playing and writing again, this time with a newly found intensity of joy and sorrow. The songs sprung out, desperate to communicate her strenuous journey.
With a clear vision of the album that the songs were forming, she took on the producing role herself and recorded the record in 12 days at Lunar Manor Studio in Oklahoma City. She's written an album beautifully composed and arranged, her voice sounding stronger than ever, and proving more so that she's a brilliant songwriter who deserves to be valued, appreciated, and recognized. She embodies the spirit of a true artist, aspiring to write, record, and play as much music as she can after her shifts at a local grocery market. This monumental, life affirming, and exquisite album is a genuine representation of Samantha's authenticity as an artist and the inspiration of her sojourn is remarkable.
'I can't say the things I need to,' Samantha Crain frets during 'Echo,' the opening track of her song cycle, A Small Death. In fact, that song and the 10 that follow it are works of stunning poetic economy and clarity. The Oklahoma-based Choctaw singer-songwriter offers impossibly perceptive vignettes of shedding toxic friendship ('Constructive Eviction'), the mutual embarrassment of high school reunions ('Reunion'), the strangeness of receding memory ('Joey') and the perverse valor of children trying to be what they think adults require ('Tough For You'). That's all the more striking considering that Crain started the writing process during a pre-COVID period of profound disruption; a series of car accidents had aggravated a nerve injury and left her without use of her hands. Crain worked her way back to functionality and produced the album herself, arriving at beguiling arrangements, sculpted with woodwinds, horns, synthesizers, piano, pedal steel and tape loops, without ever allowing herself the easy out of a guitar solo.
- Vinyl LP
- Gatefold jacket
- Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
- An Echo
- Holding To The Edge Of NIght
- High Horse
- Constructive Eviction
- Garden Dove
- Tough For You
- When We Remain
- Little Bits