Corduroy Mag Feature
February 28th, 2009 | Published in Music, Web Exclusives
Burgeoning folk songstress Samantha Crain is just about to see her first album drop, and when I call her on a Wednesday afternoon, she’s preparing for a lengthy summer tour by practicing with her band in their studio. Well, sort of. “We’d like to call it our studio,” she laughs, “but really it’s just my parents’ house.”
Crain, whose tremulous, smoky voice and emotional lyrics have earned her comparisons to Joanna Newsom, takes a refreshingly low-key approach to music. In 2006, the 22-year-old Oklahoma native was studying English at college and playing open-mike nights, but a career in music wasn’t even something she considered until academia grew dull. As an escape, she moved to a musicians’ colony in Martha’s Vineyard: “That was kind of my first introduction to songwriting,” the soft-spoken Crain admits.
In the three years since, Crain and her band, “The Midnight Shivers,” have transitioned from rec-room to recording studio. An EP of pared-down, acoustic melodies recorded in a friend’s basement, and incessant touring led Crain and her band into the stable of North Carolina-based Ramseur Records and the care of producer Danny Kadar, whose credits include the likes of Grizzly Bear and My Morning Jacket. Kadar recently guided the band through their first professional recording experience. “The studio was so beautiful, and our producer was just so cool,” gushes Crain. She finishes wryly, “Once we got used to it, we liked that environment better than recording in a dingy basement.”
The new album, “Songs in the Night,” is undeniably polished without being over-produced. “We recorded everything live and then transferred it to tape, so it’s kind of like a vintage sound,” says Crain. “There’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors going on.” The songwriting, too, has evolved, something that Crain attributes to the influence of the road. “We’re around so many music scenes… L.A., North Carolina and Austin, Texas… we’re traveling so much.”
In the calm preceding five months of heavy touring, Crain is philosophical about where the road might lead her. “I was actually lying in bed last night thinking about that… and all I could really figure out I would ever want to get out of music is just to make a living out of it,” she says. “As long as we keep the forward motion going, once we get there I think we’ll understand that’s where we want to be.”
– Jennifer Croll