Samantha Fish has a new studio album “Kill Or Be Kind”, released on Friday 20th September on Rounder Records and, as always, this album sees Samantha appealing to her core fan base of Blues aficionados whilst still finding room to try different musical styles and approaches.
Over an 11 track song cycle, this at times roots music album which was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis allows Samantha to explore two musical genres that Memphis is famous for – Blues and Soul - and there are songs on this album where I would be happy for Samantha Fish just to be on vocals and let that very good “soul voice” be her defining musical instrument.
On her last album, “Belle of The West”, there was a very definite “Americana” rather than “Blues” feel to the album, and here, with this album, there is a return to that Blues based feel to much of the album. Above all of this though, this album for me is a R&B/Soul album, and behind the always crisp precision mixed with an ability to get real feeling out of her guitar playing style, that is what has made Samantha Fish so popular as a live artist at so many venues around the world, there is a very good and emotive R&B/Soul vocalist who is also a gifted songwriter.
Samantha Fish has been a writer and performer who has interested me for more than a few years now, and there is no denying that the “pin-up rock girl” image has done nothing to hurt her career so far, but that image is only going to take you so far down the road in the music business, and sooner or later you are going to have to produce the goods. From a blues guitar point of perspective, when you are at the level of playing on stage alongside a legend like Buddy Guy for example, you have nothing to prove; the statement has already been made. Samantha Fish however playing endless covers of blues standards or “new works” based around classic Blues structures would have bored me (and probably Samantha Fish too) long ago as there is far more to this performer and songwriter who seems to take a new musical road with every recent album .
"Kill Or Be Kind" from a songwriting perspective sees Samantha Fish working with some very good co-writers, and hopefully the results will give Samantha that huge cross-over hit that, if there is any justice in the music business, is not far away from her. Listening to the songs on this album I can hear influences of Amy Winehouse, St Vincent and The Beatles (to name only a few). Samantha Fish obviously has wide and diverse musical tastes and that shows here in every song.
This is an album that explores the emotions and experiences of different stages of relationships and this is an album of carefully crafted music and words that give you often that feeling of an unfolding story when viewed as a complete work of a song cycle.
Two tracks from this album, “Watch it Die” and “Love Letters” are available now, but there are some real R&B modern classics on here that could easily have been the first release and the one for me would have been “Try Not To Fall in Love With You”. The very Beatles-esque “Fair Weather” is another favourite too.
KILL OR BE KIND
1. Bulletproof (Tangle Eye Mix)
2. Kill or Be Kind
3. Love Letters
4. Watch it Die
5. Try Not to Fall in Love with You
7. Love Your Lies
8. Dream Girl
9. She Don't Live Around Here
11. You Got It Bad
Review by Tom King