Aiken Promotions present
The Workman’s Club, Dublin
8th November 2015.
Following rave reviews of her latest record Under Branch & Thorn & Tree Samantha Crain announces an intimate show at The Workmans Club, Dublin.
Irish Times 4/5
“I don’t write protest songs in the traditional sense,” Samantha Crain says, talking about the songs on her new album, Under Branch & Thorn & Tree. “But I’m always listening to the voices of people around me. These stories are told from the perspective of the underdog, the 99% of us that are working people. They might not be literal protest songs, but the lives of the people within these songs speak at the same volume if you listen.” — Samantha Crain
Samantha Crain – For The Miner – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqUNpUjqp8M
Samantha Crain – The Pattern Has Changed – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGVDTaDY3aI
Crain’s songs are full of expansive melodies that veer off in unpredictable directions, with lyrics that explore conflicting emotions with uncommon insight and compassion. She has a jazz singer’s phrasing, often breaking words into rhythmic fragments that land before and after the beat, stretching syllables or adding grace notes to uncover hidden nuances in her lyrics.
Under Branch & Thorn & Tree was recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, with John Vanderslice (The Mountain Goats, Spoon), who also helmed last year’s Kid Face. “We both like spontaneous creation and analog sound,” Crain says. “We recorded straight to two-inch tape on a Studer 24-track machine and mixed down to 1/2-inch tape on an Ampex machine. The pre-amps were tube and we never used a computer. Our effects were done manually through tape looping and manipulation. Most of the arrangements happened in the moment, as we recorded. My guitar and vocals are all first or second takes.”
These intimate vignettes are marked by Crain’s careful attention to the tiny details that often escape us, supported by the subtle musical settings she crafted with Vanderslice and the backing musicians. Jesse Aycock’s (Hard Working Americans, The Secret Sisters) lap steel mimics the smooth, icy sound of a country guitar to compliment Crain’s high-spirited vocal on “Big Rock,” the album’s most exuberant track. Drummer Anne Lillis and bass player Reed Mathis add rhythmic tension with their stop and start fills on the chorus. Bright, chiming keyboards from John Calvin Abney sprinkle “Kathleen” with stardust, as Crain’s heartfelt vocals drift through an expansive soundscape that suggests the comforting warmth of a long summer night.
The Magik*Magik Orchestra’s plush strings (led by Minna Choi) and Crain’s bluesy acoustic strumming fill “When You Come Back” (featuring vocals from the Dodos’ Meric Long) with an aching melancholy as Crain describes the pain of seeing an old flame with his new spark. “Buried heartbreak can become very public in a small town,” she says. Crain’s propulsive fingerpicking, long sustained notes created from looping tape recordings of Aycock’s pedal steel and the sonorous strings of the Magik*Magik Orchestra bring a poignant sadness to “Elk City.” The song describes the fate of a working class woman left behind when a boomtown goes bust. The album’s overall tone may be somber, but Crain’s vocals and the sensitive, striking arrangements bring unexpected flashes of light to even the darkest scenarios.
Tickets priced €14.50 (Inc. booking fee) go on sale this Friday, 28th August at 9am through www.ticketmaster.ie & usual outlets nationwide.