Release Date: Feb 19, 2013
Record label: Ramseur Records
This Okie favors stark arrangements on her third LP, which is smart: So much happens in her voice – tremors, skids, heart-in-throat builds – that minimal backing is plenty. Flavors vary: "For the Miner" suggests U2's "One" reimagined by Neil Young; "The Pattern Has Changed" suggests an achier Carole King. Crain's lyrics are plain-spoken. But the emotion in her tone is a dissertation.
On “Never Going Back,” the opening track from Samantha Crain’s third LP Kid Face, she croons, “I had a deal with man and god, one let me down and one did not, so I made my way back home. ” The poignancy of that sentiment sets the table for the remainder of the record, leaving open the idea that Crain has drawn from bouts of abandoning and embracing humanity, spiritually perhaps, and with fantastic candor. Since the disbandment of her former group The Midnight Shivers, Crain has embarked on a vision quest of sorts, mapping out new corners of her Americana oeuvre to include flirtations with classic country and more delicate experiments in brooding indie-pop, such as is found on a track like “The Pattern Has Changed.
Blood On The Tracks. Sea Change. For Emma, Forever Ago. The breakup album, one of the most vaunted of all musical projects, is a misnomer. Certainly, with the aforementioned titles, there is a lingering sadness and direct focus on the hurting heart, but this description runs the risk of not giving ….
Oklahoma’s Samantha Crain does weird so very well. The only trouble is, she just doesn’t do it nearly enough. On her third album, the eerie Americana of ‘Paint’ brings to mind Dolly Parton wandering around a graveyard, or Joni Mitchell inviting you over for a tarot reading and a bash on her Ouija board. Crain’s aura owes a lot to her voice, a husky wobble of a thing that threatens as much as it seduces on the gothic flamenco jam ‘Sand Paintings’.
That there's a little too much misery on this third album from the 27-year-old Oklahoman doesn't obscure a promising talent at work. The album's bare-bones production is a break from Crain's previous group work, and push her robust but vulnerable voice to the fore. The bright opener, Never Going Back, with its hoedown fiddle and talk of "a horse that kicked me in the heart" is at odds with the solemn stuff that follows, which at worst descends into the glum plod of For the Miner.