With her new album about to be released to great expectations, I thought it fitting that we look at her first studio album from back in 2011 (her first was a live album called…Live) – I am talking about Samantha Fish and the brilliant debut, Runaway. She did the Ruf Records Girls With Guitars tour in the same year with Danni Wilde and Cassie Taylor which was recorded and released later that year.
Now we have to remember here that Samantha was only 22 when this came out; initially, she was up against it as the horrible ‘girls shouldn’t play guitar’ and similar negative cliches still abounded. Fortunately for us, Thomas Ruf saw the potential and, with Mike Zito producing, she released this powerful blues-rock album and, I for one, have been hooked ever since. (That unintentional pun will not happen again – she is, I’m sure, as tired of piscine ‘jokes’ as poor Walter Trout (who even released an album called Live; no more fish jokes.)
With the aforementioned Cassie Taylor on bass and backing vocals and Jamie Little on drums, this is the definition of a power trio. Plus, she wrote the songs as well (bar one Tom Petty cover) to prove her skills reach beyond the exquisite playing.
The album kicks off with the stunning ‘Down In The Swamp’ which lives up to its name as Samantha shows her instinctive abilities on standard and slide guitar and, when coupled with a vocal that can melt, freeze or pierce, it is simply brilliant.
The quality never drops either, with rockabilly blues (after a Radar Love drum intro) on the title track. ‘Today’s My Day’ is blues with diva styling: ‘Otherside of the Bottle’ takes blues with a hint of jazz and rewrites the rules with genius delivery. ‘Soft And Slow’ brings a country-rock tinge to the blues and still makes me fall in love afresh every time. ‘Push Comes To Shove’ is a co-write with Mike Zito who adds his vocal and guitar skills to Samantha’s for a brilliant duet. The Petty cover, ‘Louisiana Rain’, is a little slower and has more depth and (to me) is way better than the original. Final track, ‘Feelin’ Alright’ is smoky, jazzy, bluesy and gorgeous…instrumentally and vocally it holds you tight and you will end up feelin’ alright too.
So, a stunning debut which she has built on with her subsequent albums; Samantha never lets herself be pigeonholed by the blues label. As demonstrated here, she can take most genres, mix them up and make something fresh and rewarding be it the soulified Chills And Fever, the cigar box stomp of 2019’s ‘Bulletproof’ or the excellence of Black Wind Howlin’. I know I’m looking forward to the next instalment when the new album comes out…and I’ll be ordering the limited edition print to go with the CD, because…now that’s a guitar lick, look it up!
Samantha’s new album, Faster, is out 10th September and can be pre-ordered from her site (there is a UK store but it doesn’t have the same choice of packages…dammit!)